Last year, Sen. Mark Pryor (D-AR) voted against a popular proposal to require people who purchase firearms online or at gun shows first complete a background check. On Tuesday, however, the National Rifle Association announced a $1.3 million ad buy in Pryor’s home state of Arkansas supporting Pryor’s Republican opponent Rep. Tom Cotton.
Last year, the Senate voted 54–46 in support of a proposal to expand background checks for gun purchases — which, in the anti-democratic institution that is the United States Senate, actually counts as a loss for supporters of gun reform. Pryor was one of four Democrats who opposed this proposal.
The Arkansas senator’s vote ran contrary to the views of his home state. A poll taken the month after the vote found that 60 percent of Arkansas voters support “requiring background checks for all gun sales, including gun shows and the internet.” The same poll found that 40 percent of voters said they were more likely to vote for Pryor if he supported expanded background checks, while only 34 percent said they were less likely to support him.
Yet, if Pryor thought he could ward off opposition from a well-funded interest group by acting against the wishes of his voters, that notion has now been discredited. Pryor’s apparent reward for voting with the NRA on background checks is seven figures worth of spending seeking to turn Pryor out of office.