A national gun control group on Wednesday attacked the National Rifle Association after it attacked a political ad attacking a candidate running against a sitting Missouri senator the gun group has endorsed – and there was no shortage of punnery.
The NRA put out an ad Tuesday criticizing Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander’s voting record on guns and lambasting him for an ad he released last week where he assembled an AR-15 blindfolded and challenged his opponent in the state’s Senate race, Republican Sen. Roy Blunt, to do the same.
“Jason Kander has a blindfold and he has a good trick with his gun, but he is not telling the truth about your gun,” a voice narrates the latest NRA ad. “As a liberal Jefferson City politician, Jason Kander voted against your right to defend yourself in your own home with a firearm. Now that he wants your vote, Kander is trying to cover up his record. Don’t let Jason Kander put a blindfold on you.”
On Thursday, the NRA emailed a statement to Guns.com focusing on his what a spokesperson called a “distraction.”
“While we respect Sec. Kander’s service to our country, lying about his record on the Second Amendment while assembling a rifle does not translate into support for law-abiding gun owners,” the NRA said in the statement. “It doesn’t matter how well you know your way around a gun when you regularly vote against law-abiding citizens’ constitutional rights.”
The critique focused on a 2009 vote cast by Kander against an expansion of Missouri’s “Castle Doctrine” and a lowering of its concealed carry permit age requirement from 23 to 21.
“Although Kander cites a 2011 vote to lower the CCW age from 23 to 21 for Missourians and to 18 for military members, he doesn’t tell you that he voted against it in 2009 before he voted for it,” the NRA said.
As it had done last week, gun control group Everytown for Gun Safety came to Kander’s defense Wednesday.
“Looks like the NRA was blindsided by Jason Kander’s brilliant ad showing how gun safety goes hand-in-hand with support for Second Amendment rights,” Everytown spokesperson Erika Soto Lamb told Guns.com in an email. “It’s something gun owners and NRA members know already — if only the extremist leadership of the gun manufacturer’s lobby could see clearly.”
Everytown has been pushing to appeal to “reasonable” gun owners, those the group feels would see eye-to-eye on creating a more comprehensive, uniform background check system for gun purchase of firearms in every state. As it stands, each state can dictate its own laws for gun purchases and only federally-licensed dealers are required to run a background check through the FBI-run system called NICS. That leaves private sellers online and at gun shows in states that allow it to peddle their wares, which can end up crossing state lines and falling into criminal hands, the group argues.
Missouri has been on Everytown’s radar for some time. In April 2015, the group released a report scrutinizing the state’s 2007 dismantling of its firearms permitting system. While it was illegal for federally-licensed dealers to sell guns without running purchasers through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, private sellers had free rein.
The group claims that as a result the number of crime guns traced to Missouri increased 28 percent, with a 97 percent increase in the number of guns that were traced to crimes less than two years from their initial purchase.
According to the NRA’s Institute of Legislative Action website, until the law passed, Missourians only needed a permit to concealed carry a handgun, but that was amended by a bill past last week in the form of a veto override that which dissolved the requirement.
The state Constitution holds that “the right of every citizen to keep and bear arms, ammunition, and accessories typical to the normal function of such arms … shall not be questioned,” though the provision does not “prevent the general assembly from enacting general laws which limit the rights of convicted violent felons or those adjudicated by a court to be a danger to self or others as result of a mental disorder or mental infirmity.”
The document also says there’s nothing stopping the General Assembly from allowing or disallowing concealed carry, which is one reason why this senate race is a high-stakes game for both sides of the gun debate.
To that end and others, millions of dollars are being spent in Missouri to influence voters.
The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, dedicated to getting its party’s candidates elected, has poured some 3.5 million into the state. The DSCC released a TV ad this week painting Blunt as a career politician who uses tax dollars to live a lavish lifestyle.
The National Republican Senatorial Committee has so far committed some $270,000 for its own ad buy in support of Blunt, Politico reported.