Group doubles-down on ad challenging McConnell on his position against assault weapons ban

02/25/2013 05:09 AM

A liberal group is again challenging U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell’s position on gun control in a commercial that began running Monday in Kentucky and Washington in advance of the Senate’s next hearing on guns.

The group Progressive Change Campaign Committee is spending $100,000 to run the ad for at least a week. It began airing Monday in Louisville, Lexington, Bowling Green and Paducah markets plus Washington, D.C., as the Senate’s Judiciary Committee prepares for a hearing Wednesday on the “Assault Weapons Ban of 2013.”

It features Edmonson County resident Gary Nutt telling viewers that, as a hunter, he doesn’t see the point of owning semi-automatic assault weapons that can fire dozens of rounds quickly without needing a reload.

“I am a Vietnam Vet and a hunter. I only shot my rifle one time this last season. One shot, one deer,” he says in the ad. “But I’d be a pretty bad hunter if I needed an assault rifle to shoot that buck.”

Watch it here:

Nutt then criticizes McConnell — the Senate Republican leader — for opposing an assault weapons ban after taking $198,500 from the NRA and gun makers.

“Senator, whose side are you on?” Nutt asks to end the ad.

Nutt is among 20,000 gun owners who signed an online petition the Progressive Change Campaign Committee launched in support of President Barack Obama’s gun control proposal that includes an assault weapons ban and a limit on high-capacity magazines.

McConnell, though, has been consistently opposed to assault weapons ban even before receiving a campaign donation from the NRA.

For instance, McConnell first voted against a military assault weapons ban as part of the 1990 Omnibus Crime Bill, which narrowly passed the Senate 50-49 in May 1990, according to a Pure Politics search of news articles.

In total, the 49 senators who voted against it received nearly $950,000 between 1983 and 1990 (which coincided with nearly all of McConnell’s entire first term). But McConnell was not one of them, according to a May 25, 1990, article from U.S. Newswire. He was one of seven senators to vote against the bill despite receiving nothing from the NRA’s Victory Fund.

McConnell’s campaign manager Jesse Benton said in a statement that McConnell doesn’t want to see erosion of 2nd Amendment rights.

“Senator McConnell is committed to protecting the Constitutional Rights of every single Kentuckian,” Benton’s response said. “Far-left George Soros funded groups are dead-set on eroding our rights and have put a big target on his back, but they will not weaken Leader McConnell’s commitment to principle.”

Still, the progressive group sees the issue as a major vulnerability for McConnell in the wake of tragic mass shootings last year in Newtown, Conn., and Aurora, Colo., in which such assault weapons were used.

“Mitch McConnell is fundamentally out of step with voters back home and we will hammer him over and over again until he stops obstructing progress,” said Adam Green, co-founder of Progressive Change Campaign Committee, in a statement. “Let the political world be clear: If Mitch McConnell from the red state of Kentucky is not immune on the gun issue, no Republican politician is immune.”

The latest ad buy doubles what the group already has spent on gun-related commercials focused on McConnell. The group launched another ad focused on the gun issue earlier this month.

The group started in 2008 using a $5,000 donation from the liberal organization Moveon.org and was founded by Green, a Moveon.org strategist, labor organizer Stephanie Taylor and an anti-Internet censorship activist, Adam Swartz, according to Factcheck.org.

About Ryan Alessi

Ryan Alessi joined cn|2 in May 2010 as senior managing editor and host of Pure Politics. He is now pursuing an advanced degree in non-fiction writing from Murray State University and is a regular contributor to Pure Politics. Ryan has covered politics for more than 14 years, including seven years as a reporter for the Lexington Herald-Leader. Ryan can be reached at purepolitics@twcable.com or @mycn2 on Twitter.

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