Politico reports that the gun control group backed by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg is following through with plans to buy TV time — $350,000 worth — criticizing U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor for helping defeat some modest gun measures recently, particularly universal background checks.
The irony, of course, is that they’ll be contributing to damage of Pryor that will accrue to the benefit of the Club for Growth’s Tom Cotton, a nominal 4th District representative who plans to take the Club for Greed’s money to go after Pryor. Cotton is rarely depicted in his material without a gun in his hand. He’s a gun absolutist. In his view, there is NO law that should be passed relative to gun regulation.
Pryor has been disappointing on the issue, no doubt. But …
UPDATE: The ad is hard-hitting. See it above. It brings up the shooting death of former State Democratic Party Chair Bill Gwatney in as senseless an act of gun violence as I can imagine.
The ad features Angela Bradford Barnes, chief financial officer of the Arkansas Democratic Party at the time.
When my dear, innocent friend was shot to death, I didn’t blame guns. I blamed a system that makes it so terribly easy for criminals or the dangerous mentally ill to buy guns. That’s why I was so disappointed when Mark Pryor voted against comprehensive background checks. On that vote, he let us down.
Gun violence has personally affected my life in a tremendous way. I have spent years working for Arkansas’ Democrats and was at work with Bill Gwatney the day he was senselessly taken from us,” said Bradford-Barnes in a press release. “The pain of that experience will always be a part of me. Like 84 percent of Arkansans I support universal background checks. Thus, I was heartbroken to see that Senator Pryor opposed the bi-partisan bill because it will save lives. This bill may not be perfect, and it cannot undue my tragic loss, but if it stops even one person from causing this pain to another family, it’s worth it. I hope that if Senator Pryor is given another chance to lead on this issue he thinks first about Arkansas voters like me.
Pryor responded sharply:
“New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg didn’t know Bill Gwatney. I knew Bill Gwatney. He was my friend and he was killed by someone with severe mental health issues. The Mayor’s bill would have done nothing to prevent his death because it fails to adequately address the real issue and common thread in all of these shootings — mental health.
“That’s why I voted for separate legislation that strengthens funding for mental health programs; requires states, courts, and agencies to report mental health records to the background check system; increases penalties for straw purchases; reauthorizes and funds the COPS program to improve safety in schools; holds the Department of Justice accountable by forcing them to prosecute cases where individuals tried to purchase firearms illegally; and conducts a study on violence in the media. This legislation would have done all of this while protecting people’s 2nd amendment rights.
“Mayor Bloomberg’s attack ad politicizes the death of my friend by misleading people into thinking that his bill would have prevented Bill Gwatney’s tragic death. The fact is it wouldn’t have, which makes Mayor Bloomberg’s ad even more disgusting.”
The Democratic Party followed with this from Candace Martin:
“Bill Gwatney was a friend and inspiration to all Democrats. Not a day goes by that we don’t think about his tragic death and miss him. We don’t believe it is right for any organization to politicize this tragedy.”
I’m just about fed up with the “politicizing tragedy” cliche used to avoid talking about tough issues. Guns are an issue precisely because of tragedies. Pryor himself brought up storm aid votes the other day — a clear and deserved jab at Rep. Tom Cotton — in advocating help for Oklahoma. That wasn’t politicizing tragedy, either, though Republican shills tried to call it that to stop references to Cotton. Actions have consequences, past and future. A death need not be provably preventable by background checks to mention it as another senseless gun death that underscored the ready availability of instruments of death without much meaningful impediment.