NRA brings ads to party
By Valerie Richardson

LOS ANGELES  The National Rifle Association crashed the
party yesterday with an ad campaign accusing Democrats
of being soft on protecting the Constitution, specifically
the Second Amendment."Do Democrats want to destroy the
Second Amendment?" thundered the NRA in a full-page ad that
ran yesterday in the Los Angeles Times and USA Today.
The nation's largest gun rights organization is also
running television spots during this week's Democratic
National Convention featuring NRA President Charlton Heston,
who urges voters to remember that "this election is about

The campaign is aimed at reminding gun-owning Democrats,
particularly those in must-win states like Michigan, Ohio
and Pennsylvania, that their party has become increasingly
hostile to the rights of gun owners, said NRA spokesman
Bill Powers.

"This is a week where the entire country focuses on the
Democratic Party and we just want to tell Americans where
they stand," said Mr. Powers.

"We see this as a major wedge issue, especially in key
battleground states."  Democrats wasted no time in blasting
the ads, calling them misleading and inaccurate, while
taking issue with the NRA's interpretation of the Second

"It [the ad] claims we're trying to take away people's
rights," said Rep. Carolyn McCarthy, New York Democrat,
during a forum yesterday on gun violence. "You show me
one thing I'm doing to take away people's rights."

The ad accuses the Clinton-Gore administration and
Democratic mayors of trying to put "honest gunmakers"
out of business with expensive lawsuits. It goes on to
claim that trial lawyers, anti-gun activists and
their supporters are "almost all Democrats."
"The gun-hating celebrities who want their bodyguards
armed, but not you, are almost all Democrats," says the ad.

"From anti-gun mayors and march organizers to a gun-hating
Hollywood and White House, they're almost all Democrats."
It wasn't always so, said Mr. Powers. The NRA has in the
past drawn support from both Republicans and Democrats,
including Democratic presidential nominee Al Gore, who
drew A-ratings from the NRA as a Tennessee congressman
in the 1980s.  Even Connecticut Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman,
now Mr. Gore's vice-presidential pick, earned a B-plus
during his 1988 campaign.  But the Democrats are now the
party of gun control, said Mr. Powers.  "We've talked to
our members in states like Michigan and Ohio, and
they're troubled because their party, the party they've
identified with for 30 years, has moved away from
defending freedom for law-abiding people," Mr. Powers

David Bernstein, spokesman for Handgun Control Inc.,
said the ads show the NRA's growing allegiance to the
Republican Party. "The NRA has no doubt become more
partisan in this election cycle than I've ever seen
them," he said. "The initials 'NRA' could now stand
for 'National Republican Association.' "

He pointed to the recent remarks of Kayne Robinson,
the organization's first vice president, who told an
NRA gathering in February that if Republican George
W. Bush wins the presidency this year, "we'll have a
president where we work out of their office."
"His words are scary to many voters," said Mr.
Bernstein. Mr. Powers retorted that groups like Handgun
Control had complete access to the Oval Office during
the Clinton administration. "They've been working out
of the White House for eight years while 80 million
law-abiding gun owners have been shut out," said Mr.
The NRA isn't the first to crash an unfriendly party
this year: During the Republican National Convention,
Handgun Control ran television ads on local and cable
stations in Philadelphia targeting Mr. Bush's support
of measures such as Texas' concealed-carry law.
That sounds like an invitation from Mrs McCarthy.

A new form of McCarthyism appears to be threatening
American gun owners!


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