A Democratic senator who voted against key legislation expanding background checks has a new ad defending this unpopular vote, but his ad understates the impact of the bill he voted against and suggests that Arkansans are far less supportive of ensuring guns do not get into the hands of criminals than they actually are.
Last week, Mayors Against Illegal Guns, a group co-founded by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, launched an ad campaign criticizing Sen. Mark Pryor (D-AR) for his vote against expanding background checks for gun purchases. Pryor voted against an expanded background checks provision championed by Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Pat Toomey (R-PA). Instead, he voted for an NRA-backed plan that would have actually weakened gun laws in many respects, such as by making it easier to buy and transport guns across state lines.
Today, Pryor hit the airwaves with his rebuttal to Bloomberg’s ads:
PRYOR: The mayor of New York City is running ads against me because I oppose President Obama’s gun control legislation. Nothing in the Obama plan would have prevented tragedies like Newtown, Aurora, Tuscon or even Jonesboro. I’m committed to finding real solutions to gun violence while protecting our Second Amendment rights. I’m Mark Pryor, and I approved this message because no one from New York or Washington tells me what to do. I listen to Arkansas.
It is simply not true that the background check legislation Pryor voted against will not prevent tragedies resulting from gun violence. In 2007, Missouri repealed its “permit-to-purchase” law, which required gun purchasers to submit to background checks conducted by county sheriffs. In the three years following repeal, the gun homicide rate spiked 25 percent in Missouri. If background checks had been expanded on a national level, as the bill Pryor opposed would have done, it is likely that such a national reform would be even more effective in reducing gun violence than Missouri’s law was, because criminals frequently take advantage of lax gun laws in other states to evade stricter laws where they reside.
Additionally, although Pryor suggests that he decided to vote against expanded background checks because he was acting according to his constituents’ wishes, recent polling data indicates that Arkansans would prefer for him to reverse course. According to a poll released Wednesday, 60 percent of Arkansas voters support “requiring background checks for all gun sales, including gun shows and the internet.” Significantly, a plurality also said that they would be more likely to vote for Pryor next year if he voted for expanded background checks.