The push, part of an effort organized by the group Mayors Against Illegal Guns, comes as lawmakers who opposed the popular measure are facing pointed questions from angry constituents at town halls and seeing their approval ratings plummet. As a result, some are simply dodging the tough questions, particularly from families who have been most affected by gun violence:
— SEN. KELLY AYOTTE (R-NH): Anne Lyczak — who lost her husband Richard in January 1994, when he was killed in a drive-by shooting in Portsmouth, N.H — “wrote a letter to Ayotte, inviting her to dinner at her house to talk about ways to prevent gun violence…. Ayotte’s office, however, turned down Lyczak’s request, saying the senator would keep it under consideration for the future. Ayotte’s office cited scheduling constraints” [Huffington Post, 5/3/2013]
— SEN. JEFF FLAKE (R-AZ): “Caren Teves, whose son was killed last summer in a mass shooting in Aurora, Colo., said she invited Flake to dinner to sit in her son’s empty chair. He replied with a hand-written note affirming his support for expanded gun control measures. “I am confused and would like an answer,” Teves said. “I would like Sen. Flake to look me in the eye and tell me why he ignored me.” Teves said Flake has ignored many emails and phone calls from her and her husband, but she remains determined. [KTAR, 5/2/2013]
— SEN. MARK PRYOR (D-AR): Neil Heslin — whose son was murdered at Sandy Hook Elementary School — “said he invited Senator Pryor to a private dinner to speak about how legislation he wants to eliminate gun loopholes. However, Heslin told us he never heard back from Pryor, but plans to speak with him at a public event in Lonoke County Thursday.” [KATV, 5/2/2013]
— SEN. RICHARD BURR (R-NC): “Fran Lynch of North Carolina’s Religious Coalition for a Non-Violent Durham sent a letter to Burr, asking that he join her and her friends for a discussion on gun control… Burr’s scheduler replied that the senator was unavailable “due to previously scheduled events already on his schedule.” [Huffington Post, 5/2/2013]
— SEN. ROB PORTMAN (R-OH): “[A] Springfield, Ohio woman whose 27-year-old son was killed in last year’s Colorado movie theater rampage tried to arrange a dinner with Portman so she could express her frustration with his vote….A Portman aide told The Plain Dealer the senator’s schedule did not permit him to meet with Jackson this week, but he would consider it in the future.” [Plain Dealer, 5/2/2013]
— SEN. JOHN CORNYN (R-TX): Parents of a woman who was killed in the Colorado theatre shooting “said they initially invited both Cruz and Senator John Cornyn to their home for dinner…. Though Cornyn has not accepted their invitation, Cruz, who was in town on Wednesday for a North Side Chamber of Commerce event, met briefly with the couple at a local restaurant.” [KSAT, 5/1/2013]
The National Rifle Association has begun running radio ads thanking Ayotte for voting down background checks and the senator continues to justify her opposition to the amendment by falsely claiming that additional screenings would lead to the creation of a gun registry. The claim, widely debunked, has been advanced by the NRA.
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), the sponsor of the bipartisan measure, has pledged to slightly modify his amendment and bring it back for a vote in the Senate. Gun advocates remain hopeful that the growing public pressure could convince more than 60 senators to support the bill, forcing House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) to put it up for a vote in House of Representatives. The House version of the Manchin compromise has more than 120 co-sponsors, including three Republicans.