The Senate race in Missouri turned to guns Thursday after contender and current Secretary of State Jason Kander called out his opponent, sitting Republican Sen. Roy Blunt, for attacking him on the subject, while brandishing a semi-automatic AR-15.
“Well, in the Army, I learned how to use and respect my rifle,” Kander said while assembling the rifle blindfolded. “In Afghanistan, I’d volunteer to be an extra gun in a convoy of unarmored SUVs and in the state legislature I supported Second Amendment rights. I also believe in background checks, so that terrorists can’t get their hands on one of these. I approved this message because I’d like to see Sen. Blunt do this.”
Kander tweeted back, saying, “I volunteered to serve in Afghanistan to fight radical Islamic terrorism. Think before you tweet.”
Kander released another spot Wednesday, which opens with what is presumably U.S. combat footage in the Middle East.
“There are a lot of men and women serving our country overseas who never ask what’s in it for them,” Kander says. “They do their jobs in some of the toughest, hardest, most dangerous places on Earth. They get sent there by politicians, but they do it for their country and for each other. I know because I was there alongside many of them. … I don’t want the sacrifices made in Iraq and Afghanistan to be forgotten in Washington, but there are far too many there who put their party, their pay raises and their political careers ahead of doing what’s right for our country.”
Blunt has not publicly responded to Kander’s latest ad. Guns.com reached out to the Blunt campaign for comment and did not receive a response by article publication.
The NRA last week put out its own ad against Kander, attacking his record on the Second Amendment. The ad was to run in Kansas City, Springfield and Joplin.
“Missouri voters deserve to know that their Second Amendment freedoms hang in the balance this November,” said Chris W. Cox, chairman of the NRA Political Victory Fund, in a statement. “The next Missouri senator will help determine control of the Supreme Court. Jason Kander would be devastating for law-abiding citizens’ fundamental right of self-defense in the U.S. Senate.”
“It’s 4 a.m. and something’s not right,” a female voice says over suspenseful music as a perpetrator breaks through the front door of a house. “You have a right to protect your home with a firearm, but liberal politician Jason Kander voted against your right. Missouri’s next senator will decide control of the Supreme Court. Jason Kander refused to defend your Second Amendment rights in Jefferson City. How could you trust him in Washington?”
In 2009, Kander voted against a bill – HB 668 – to lower the age at which a Missourian could obtain a concealed carry permit. The bill, which also included a provision allowing the use of deadly force in property protection and would allow guns on college campuses, ended up passing the House 105-50 and was sent to committee.
Kander’s campaign defended his support of gun rights.
“Jason supports the 2nd Amendment and has voted to protect those rights for law-abiding Missourians,” the campaign’s press secretary, Anne Feldman, told Guns.com in an email.
More recently, Kander voted to lower the state’s concealed carry age from 23 to 21 for Missourians and from 21 to 18 for military service members, as well as a resolution to re-affirm the rights of gun owners.
Still, the NRA isn’t convinced. A spokesperson did not respond to requests for comment by article publication.
Self-proclaimed NRA-counterweight and gun control group Everytown for Gun Safety backed Kander’s ad and his stance on background checks in an email to Guns.com Thursday.
“Second Amendment rights go hand-in-hand with common-sense public safety measures to prevent gun violence and save lives,” Everytown spokesperson Taylor Maxwell said. “This ad is proof of how gun politics have evolved: Pundits and candidates have long viewed gun safety as an issue to avoid or run away from – especially in some parts of the country. But this year, candidates from both sides of the aisle, including Hillary Clinton and Republican Senator Pat Toomey, are embracing it as a winning issue.”
When asked if Everytown would officially endorse Kander, Maxwell replied her group has only endorsed Hillary Clinton, “but our more than 3 million supporters are committed to voting on gun safety and are supporting candidates who prioritize preventing gun violence,” she said.