Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) took a bath in the polls after she voted against expanding background checks for gun purchases — her approval rating dropped 15 points in the immediate aftermath of her vote. Moreover, she is currently being hit by an ad pointing out that she opposed expanding background checks despite the fact that 89 percent of the state support comprehensive checks. In reaction to this ad, the National Rifle Association responded with an unusual tactic — trying to trick voters into thinking she actually supports background checks. Watch it:
The ad’s core claim is that “Kelly Ayotte voted for a bipartisan plan to make background checks more effective.” In reality, Ayotte opposed the bipartisan background checks plan co-sponsored by Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA). What she voted for instead was a plan by Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Ted Cruz (R-TX) that would actually weaken gun laws by making it easier to buy and transport guns across state lines. Gun sales in states with lax gun laws are a common method of evading strict state and local laws, and are a major driver of gun violence in cities such as Chicago. So the proposal Ayotte supported could make gun violence worse.
In addition to making it easier for gun purchasers to evade state law, the Grassley/Cruz proposal includes provisions that encourage states to share mental health records with the existing federal background checks system — a solution that does nothing to prevent people who want to evade this system from taking advantage of holes in the current system which allow people to buy guns with no background check at all. Additionally, the proposal funds additional prosecutions of felons who seek to buy guns — a solution that also does nothing to prevent felons who seek to buy guns from evading detection altogether by taking advantage of holes in the background check system.
So the plan that Ayotte supported would do little, if anything, to “make background checks more effective,” as the NRA claims. Nevertheless, it is significant that the NRA decided that it should run this particular ad in the first plan. The NRA’s ad, with its effort into misleading voters into thinking Ayotte is more supportive of gun regulation than she actually is, is a tacit admission that the NRA’s sweeping opposition to expanding background checks will not play with voters.