Traverse City Record-Eagle

Opinion

April 13, 2013

Fact Check: Gun rights group's aim is way off

A conservative gun rights group is going after three congressmen with “A” ratings from the National Rifle Association by falsely claiming they support President Obama’s gun control agenda.

TV ads attacking Virginia Republicans Eric Cantor and Scott Rigell and West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin falsely accuse the three congressmen of supporting a federal gun registry. They have expressed varying degrees of support for enhanced background checks, but none has supported a federal gun registry. Nor is such a registry even being proposed.

A claim that Rigell and Manchin support Obama’s gun agenda is false. Neither has backed the most controversial part of Obama’s plan: banning assault weapons and large-capacity magazines.

The National Association for Gun Rights, which takes a more conservative line on gun rights than the NRA, has spent $50,000 on TV and radio ads attacking the gun rights bona fides of three legislators who have enjoyed the backing of the NRA. At the end of each ad, the politicians’ faces morph into Obama’s to drive home the bogus claim that they are pushing the president’s gun control agenda.

Obama’s gun control plan would require criminal background checks for all gun sales, including private sales, and would ban certain military-style, semi-automatic firearms and high-capacity magazines. Although political momentum for an assault weapons ban appears to be waning, Obama has not wavered from that goal. In a speech in Denver on April 3, Obama reiterated his pledge to “keep weapons of war and high-capacity ammunition magazines that facilitate mass killings off our streets.” He also repeated his call for universal and beefed-up background checks.

That is far different from the public positions adopted by the three legislators targeted by the NAGR ads.

The NAGR’s ad campaign has garnered news attention recently because Rigell questioned the group’s association with Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, who has lent his name to the group’s fundraising efforts. Paul, a Republican, denied he has any role in setting the group’s agenda, but he refused to repudiate the group.

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