Here's the ad that's been playing:Mayors Against Illegal Guns today announced that ads will begin to air in Arkansas today demanding that Senator Mark Pryor take action to pass commonsense gun reforms. Ads will air in key states during the upcoming Congressional recess and can be found here: www.demandaction.org/recessads
"These ads bring the voices of Americans – who overwhelmingly support comprehensive and enforceable background checks – into the discussion to move Senators to immediately take action to prevent gun violence," said Mayors Against Illegal Guns Co-Chair and New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg . "We demanded a plan and we got one. We demanded a vote and we'll get one. Now we're doing what we can to pass a bill that will save lives."
"While they are home for this recess, members of Congress will hear directly from their constituents who support sensible gun law reforms like expanded background checks," said Mayors Against Illegal Guns Co-Chair and Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino . "The legislation is on the table – it's time for our leaders in Washington to act."
"Guns are a Second Amendment right," said Forrest City Mayor Larry S. Bryant . "I own guns and have been exposed to guns for 50 years, but they are dangerous in the hands of criminals, domestic abusers, the mentally ill, and other dangerous people; therefore, I advocate closing the loopholes in the current law, and expanding background checks. With over 80 percent of Arkansans supporting background checks for all guns, I think this makes it an easy decision for our elected officials to vote for background checks that will help make cities safer for its citizens."
The ad airing in Arkansas, "Family," features a gun owner who understands that supporting background checks goes hand in hand with defending the Second Amendment – and his family. - 3/26/13
While I appreciate guys like Bloomberg and Menino taking action to get Senators to back gun control, it doesn't seem to be working on Senator Pryor:
Sen. Mark L. Pryor, Arkansas Democrat, spoke out against New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s gun-control ads in his state.Now Pryor is up for re-election next year and his state became a whole lot more red thanks to redistricting. But maybe his hesitance to back something as popular and pragmatic as background checks isn't all his fault:
“I don’t take gun advice from the mayor of New York City,” Mr. Pryor said in a statement. “I listen to Arkansans.” - Washington Times, 3/26/13
It's a valid point. Having the nanny state mayor be the voice of gun control and the last thing Democrats like Pryor want is to be associated with Bloomberg. But Bloomberg's PAC has had some success with helping pro-gun control candidates win their races:Is Michael Bloomberg helping or hurting his cause? When the New York mayor’s organization, Mayor’s Against Illegal Guns, launched its $12 million advertising campaign to pressure lawmakers into supporting gun control legislation, the negative reaction from the NRA was predictable, but a week after the launch, the reaction from potential allies has also been cool. Senators and staffers working on bipartisan legislation say that Bloomberg’s effort to mobilize voters is less effective because it is also energizing gun control opponents. It’s pressuring lawmakers in the wrong way, too. Any legislator targeted by Bloomberg’s campaign who ultimately supports gun control legislation will look like he or she is being bowled over by a nanny-state mayor who wants to tell their constituents how to live their lives.
In conversations with senators working on bipartisan gun safety legislation, the discussion quickly moves to questions of culture. Democrats need Republican allies from states with a vibrant gun culture. Those Republicans can credibly carry the message that the final bill is not part of some secret plan to seize all the guns. The key point of dispute is what kind of records would be kept as a part of an expanded background check system. Records would help catch criminals, say its proponents. They would give federal gun grabbers a breadcrumb trail to the gun closet for the eventual confiscation, say gun rights advocates.
No Democrat can assure skeptics that the legislation is not the thin edge of the wedge, not even Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, who the NRA rates as a friend of gun rights. Manchin has been desperately searching for a Republican partner in this effort. (Republican Sen. Mark Kirk of Illinois, who supports some gun control measures, doesn't count because he's not seen as an envoy from gun culture).
Just as Manchin, Arkansas’ Sen. Mark Pryor, and other Democrats from conservative states are arguing this legislation won’t become a clandestine attempt to take people’s guns, Michael Bloomberg comes along—the mayor who tried to force portion control on sugary drinks and who banned cigarette smoking from public indoor spaces. A greater boogeyman for the gun culture would be hard to find.
Senators and activists working on legislation argue that when gun control becomes a cultural issue they lose leverage. Voters who would be inclined to part ways with the no-compromise views of the NRA are spooked by what they perceive as a threat to personal liberty. The assault weapons ban offered a good illustration of this phenomenon. Gun control advocates recognized, even in the early days after the Newtown, Conn., massacre, that too many voters had a cultural aversion to banning weapons to make an assault weapons ban realistic. - Slate, 3/29/13
Bloomberg might have better luck convincing Democrats like Senators Mark Warner (D. VA) and Kay Hagan (D. NC) to get on board with universal background checks. Even Senator Mary Landrieu (D. LA) can be persuaded on this issue:Bloomberg does have a history of pumping money into close races around the country in an attempt to eke out wins for pro-gun control candidates. He helped defeat Democratic Rep. Joe Baca of California, spending more than $3.3 million to oust the representative with an "A" rating from the NRA. Bloomberg's super PAC also spent more than $2 million on the special election to fill Rep. Jesse Jackson's seat in Illinois, which was won by gun-control advocate Robin Kelly. - U.S. News, 3/27/13
So maybe Bloomberg would have a better shot at getting Landrieu on board than Pryor. But Pryor at least does support some form of background checks, even though it's flawed:In a move that could produce such ads, Landrieu hasn’t ruled out supporting some gun-control measures. And she hasn’t closed the door on backing gay marriage should it come to a vote in the Senate. - Politico, 3/29/13
So yeah, good luck with getting Pryor on board, despite the fact that 84% of Arkansas voters support expanding background checks to all firearm purchsases. I don't yet if Pryor is going to suffer the same fate as his colleague, Senator Blanche Lincoln (D. AR) did in 2010, but who knows, he might get lucky and the GOP will nominate a Tea Party nut job. Who knows for sure but if Pryor won't budge on background checks, he sure won't be getting any big fundraising dollars to help him secure his 2014 re-election:Pryor emphasized removing records from the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, rather than broadening the requirement:
PRYOR: I do support improving the background check. I want to make sure that when we put data in the background check that we have the right kind of mental health data. We need integrity in that data to be in there and we also need a process where people can get their names out of there when the time is right. Either they got their name wrongly in the first place or they’ve gone through some issue or whatever and that’s behind them and they need to get their name out of the database. So I support a bipartisan bill on that, in fact I think it’s endorsed by the NRA, so I’m not like totally opposed to every single thing. I try to be reasonable on this.
Pryor, along with Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Mark Begich (R-AK), Dean Heller (R-NV), and Jeff Flake (R-AZ), has introduced the NICS Reporting Improvement Act (S. 480). The Act clarifies that mentally ill people are prevented from obtaining firearms but defines that term narrowly, so as to allow patients who had been treated for mental illness to pass a federal background check and purchase guns.
For instance, federal law prohibits people who are ordered by a court into involuntary treatment, found to pose a danger to themselves or others, or lack the mental capacity to enter into legal contracts from buying weapons — even though individuals can petition to have their rights restored in 22 states. The bipartisan NICS Reporting Improvement Act would allow these people to purchase weapons immediately after being released, unless it can be proven that they pose an “imminent” danger. - Think Progress, 4/2/13
If you're a resident of Arkansas, please tell Senator Pryor you support universal background checks and you want him to get on board with them:With red state Democratic Senators remaining skittish about embracing Obama’s gun proposals, at least two top Democratic donors are stepping forward and vowing to withhold any and all future financial contributions from any Democrats who don’t support the centerpiece of Obama’s plan: Expanded background checks.
Kenneth Lerer, a New York businessman who is chairman of Buzzfeed.com, and David Bohnett, a technology entrepreneur and philanthopist based in Los Angeles, are both major financial supporters of Democratic candidates, having each given scores of large contributions over the years. They are both key players in the political fundraising world and wield influence among other donors and fundraisers.
Neither will give another dime to any Senate Democrat who does not support expanded background checks, I’m told — and both will suggest to other donors that they do the same. The move underscores the rising importance of gun control as an issue in Democratic politics — and the rising frustration in some Democratic circles with elected officials who continue to regard gun politics as a third rail, at a moment that presents a real opportunity to achieve serious reform, with a policy that enjoys near universal public support.
“At some point you have to draw a line in the sand — for me that time is now,” Lerer told me in an interview. “If candidates or officeholders can’t support something like comprehensive and enforceable background checks, then I wouldn’t think of giving them any money going forward.” - The Washington Post, 3/28/13