Gun Control Groups To Match NRA Spending In Midterm Elections

Proponents Of Increased Gun Control Laws Demonstrate In Washington


WASHINGTON — Gun control groups say this is the year they finally go toe-to-toe with the National Rifle Association and match their foe’s imposing campaign spending for congressional candidates.

Their long-awaited financial parity with the gun lobby, however, underscores the importance of timing in politics. Firearms violence has faded as a top tier public concern, a turnabout from the issue’s high profile immediately following the December 2012 massacre of 20 first-graders and six aides at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.

The subject barely registers in polling that shows voters far more focused on the economy and terrorism. This week’s Associated Press-GfK poll showed fewer than 1 percent of likely voters named guns as the nation’s top issue — a view that many House and Senate contests reflect.

“I can’t think of one race where the gun issue has been prominent in any way,” said Democratic pollster John Anzalone, who is involved in two dozen congressional campaigns.

That isn’t stopping each side in the gun debate from planning to pump tens of millions of dollars into this fall’s races. There are numerous close contests, particularly for seats in a Senate that both parties hope to control next year.

“It’s an important issue to segments of voters on both sides” of the gun issue, said Neil Newhouse, a Republican pollster. “You don’t need to make a huge difference, you just need to make a little difference because these races are all so close.”

Few doubt that organizations led by billionaire Michael Bloomberg and the wounded former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., will unleash huge sums in the campaigns’ closing weeks to back candidates favoring firearms curbs. They’re off to modest starts — unlike the NRA.

Barely a month from Election Day, the nation’s most powerful gun rights group has so far reported spending over $10 million for ads and other efforts either for or against more than 60 congressional candidates. The efforts include sending NRA field representatives to gun shows to tout favored candidates.

That spending — which is supposed to be done independently and not coordinated with candidates — makes the NRA the ninth highest spender of more than 300 groups tracked by the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics, which monitors political spending.

Virtually all NRA spending has been to help Republicans. As of Aug. 31 it reported having $18.5 million banked and was still raising money.

NRA expenditures include over $1 million in each of five states — North Carolina, Arkansas, Iowa, Colorado and Louisiana —to help GOP hopefuls capture Senate seats held by Democrats. All those races seem tight.

Some NRA ads have targeted Bloomberg, the former New York City mayor who is bankrolling two groups that back gun curbs.

In one recent NRA spot, a Colorado woman, Kimberly Weeks, describes an assault she survived in her home and says, “Michael Bloomberg wants to take away my gun rights for self-defense while he surrounds himself with armed guards” at his New York home.

The NRA’s early spending advantage could be short-lived.

Bloomberg has pledged to spend $50 million this year to advance his gun control goals. Some of that is to support his Everytown for Gun Safety, which is focusing largely on state contests, including backing a Washington state ballot initiative to require background checks for private sales of firearms.

Bloomberg’s separate political committee, Independence USA PAC, has reported no significant campaign spending since helping two Democrats win special congressional elections last year. Bloomberg has reported contributing $11.4 million since January 2013 to several committees, mostly to Independence USA.

“We tend to spend late and heavy,” said Bloomberg adviser Howard Wolfson, referring to 2012, when the then-new Independence USA spent virtually all of its $8.2 million on ads in that campaign’s closing days. “It’s a strategy that we think is effective.”

Americans for Responsible Solutions, headed by Giffords and husband Mark Kelly, the one-time astronaut, has said it will at least match the $20 million the NRA spent during the entire 2012 campaign, which included a presidential race.

Giffords and Kelly plan getting involved in at least a dozen congressional races this month, including backing incumbent Democratic senators in Colorado, Louisiana, Minnesota, New Hampshire and North Carolina.

Their group reported having $9 million in cash this summer and spending $2.5 million so far this year for candidates favoring gun control. That has included support for the re-election of both Democratic congresswomen from New Hampshire and Pennsylvania Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick, a Republican gun control backer.

They’ve also helped Democratic Rep. Ron Barber battle a challenge by Republican Martha McSally for Giffords’ old House seat. Barber, Giffords’ former chief of staff, was wounded in the 2011 mass shooting that injured her.

The group ran a TV spot featuring the crying mother of a shooting victim and that accused McSally of opposing efforts to keep stalkers from getting firearms.

“I don’t think she really understands how important that is to a lot of women,” the tearful woman said.

Giffords’ group pulled that ad after McSally said she’s always backed barring stalkers from having guns. Giffords’ senior adviser Pia Carusone said they dropped the ad after McSally “changed her mind” on the issue.




Colorado Senate President John Morse, state Sen. Angela Giron ousted


An epic national debate over gun rights in Colorado on Tuesday saw two Democratic state senators ousted for their support for stricter laws, a “ready, aim, fired” message intended to stop other politicians for pushing for firearms restrictions. Senate President John Morse and Sen. Angela Giron will be replaced in office with Republican candidates who petitioned onto the recall ballot.

Party insiders always said Giron’s race was the harder one. Although her district is heavily Democratic, Pueblo is a blue-collar union town. Morse’s district included Manitou Springs and a portion of Colorado Springs — and more liberals.

“It has been an honor to represent the 11th Senate District,” Morse said in his concession


Ballot Issue State Senate 3 – Recall Giron

100% reporting

Yes 56.0%

No 43.9%



Ballot Issue State Senate 11 – Recall Morse

100% reporting

Yes 50.9%

No 49.0%



speech. “It’s been hugely rewarding.”


Giron conceded about 10:45 p.m., telling supporters “this will make us stronger.”

She said she had no regrets about the votes she had taken that led to her recall. “I’m a fighter,” she said. “We will win in the end, because we are on the right side.”

The turn of events made Morse and Giron the first Colorado state lawmakers to be recalled. Former Colorado Springs councilman Bernie Herpin will take Morse’s seat in the Senate, while Pueblo will be represented by former Deputy Police Chief George Rivera.

It’s unclear when the city of Pueblo was last represented in the Senate by a Republican.

“Coloradans … sent a clear message that politicians who blatantly ignore their constituents will be held accountable,” said Dustin Zvonek, state director of Americans for Prosperity. “Perhaps this will serve as a lesson that one-party rule in Denver doesn’t give the majority license to take things to extremes or run roughshod over the values and rights of Coloradans who just happen, for the moment, to be in the minority.”

“Tonight is a victory for the people of the state of Colorado, who have been subject to the overreach of a Democrat agenda on guns, taxes and

Colorado State Senate President John Morse gives his concession speech after being defeated in the recall election against him at his election night party at the Wyndham Hotel in Colorado Springs on Tuesday. (Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post)

accountability to the people,” said Tim Knight, Founder of the Basic Freedom Defense Fund and the “father” of the recalls. “Since day one, they said it couldn’t be done. Tonight, this is a victory for the people of Colorado, and we share this victory with them.”


Democrats control the Senate, the House and the governor’s office. Even with Morse and Giron leaving, Democrats retain a one-seat majority in the Senate.

The National Rifle Association, which donated about $360,000 to support the recalls, hailed Morse’s loss, telling The Denver Post it “is proud to have stood with the men and women in Colorado who sent a clear message that their Second Amendment rights are not for sale.”

But it wasn’t just the NRA that warned Democrats about messing with gun rights.

Sen. Lois Tochtrop, an Adams County Democrat and longtime Second Amendment activist, opposed five of the seven gun bills initially introduced in the session, including a lightning-rod proposal by Morse.

That proposal would have assigned liability for assault-style weapon damages to manufacturers and sellers, but Morse killed it at the 11th-hour because he didn’t have the votes to pass it through the Democratic-controlled Senate.

“I feel like all these gun bills have done — to quote the last words in the movie ‘Tora! Tora! Tora!’ — is to awaken a sleeping giant,” Tochtrop said during the debate.

Awaken they did.

Upset by the bills themselves and the Senate Democrats’ decision to hold seven hearings in one day — resulting in hundreds of witnesses being unable to testify — voters in Morse’s and Giron’s districts successfully forced the first-ever recall elections of state lawmakers in Colorado history.

Spurred by two national tragedies — a shooting in an Aurora movie theater in July 2012 and a Connecticut elementary school in December — legislatures across the country this year passed new gun laws.

Some states, including Colorado and Connecticut, passed stricter laws, while others loosened


restrictions, believing more law-abiding citizens carrying guns would mean fewer shootings.


They ran the gamut, from New York’s limit of seven rounds per magazine to Arkansas’ Church Protection Act, giving places of worship the authority to allow guns on their premises, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

In the end, Colorado was able to do what Congress could not, but it came with a price for Democrats.

Gov. John Hickenlooper — once deemed so unbeatable that the GOP couldn’t even find a candidate to run against him in 2014 — now faces falling approval ratings and a crowded field of Republican contenders, in part for backing stricter gun measures.

But not every Republican supported the recalls.

“I think this is the wrong way to settle differences,” said Dorothy Carr, 79, as she waited in line to vote in Morse’s district.

Also voting against Morse’s recall was Coloradan Sachin Mathur, a Democrat attending Colorado College.

“I’ve grown up in the age of Columbine and the Aurora theater shooting, and John Morse has stood up to the (NRA),” Mathur said. “He did what was right.”

The road to the recalls took a number of turns.

The efforts to recall two other Democrats, Rep. Mike McLachlin of Durango and Sen. Evie Hudak of Westminster, failed when their constituents failed to get enough signatures to force an election.

Even the head of Colorado’s most strident gun-rights group, Dudley Brown with the Rocky Mountain Gun Owners, initially balked at the idea of a recall, suggesting the money would be better spent in 2014 in swing legislative seats.

And the recalls against Morse and Giron were marked by legal challenges, including unsuccessful attempts by Democrats to invalidate the signatures of voters who supported the recalls. One court battle ultimately resulted in turning what was supposed to be an all-mail ballot into a polling-place election, which forced campaign strategists to change their ground game.

Recall opponents argued that the elections — which the two counties have to pay for — were a waste of money because Morse is term-limited next year and Giron is up for re-election. They also said recalls should not be used to solve policy differences.

But recall supporters contend Morse and Giron ignored their constituents and the constitution by advancing the gun laws. They accused the governor and the legislature of taking marching orders from the White House and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who contributed $350,000 to fight the recalls. Vice President Joe Biden even called Democrats on the House floor on the day that chamber was debating the gun package.

Mark Glaze, executive director of the group Bloomberg formed, Mayors Against Illegal Guns, said Tuesday that the NRA no longer has the field to itself in the ballot over gun laws.

“Win, lose or draw, this will send a message to legislators who take risks to protect their community. We will have their back, and eventually, the tide will turn,” Glaze said.

In order to force a recall, supporters had to collect a percentage of valid voter signatures based on the turnout in the previous election in that district.

Because the turnout in Morse’s election in 2010 was so low — a race where he probably would have lost had there not been a Libertarian candidate — no one was surprised when that recall effort succeeded.

It was a different story in Pueblo, a heavily Democratic district, where three plumbers armed with laptops linked to a state database not only collected enough valid signatures but had a low number thrown out.

“Giron’s disregard for the majority of her constituents to vote ‘no’ on anti-Second Amendment issues and her general disregard of our Constitution and the rights of the citizens of Colorado demonstrate she must be removed from the Senate,” plumber Victor Head, president of Pueblo Freedom and Rights, said in a statement at the time.

Staff writers Ryan Parker and Austin Briggs contributed to this report.



Gov. Hickenlooper statement about recall election results

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper released this statement Tuesday night about the recall elections in Pueblo and El Paso counties:

“Our democracy gives the people the right to vote for their elected representatives. Tonight, voters in two Senate districts have spoken. We are certainly disappointed by the outcome of the recall elections.

“It’s now time we refocus again on what unites Coloradans — creating jobs, educating our children, creating a healthier state — and on finding ways to keep Colorado moving forward.”

Mom Warns Against Improper Gun Storage After Son Shoots Pal

gun-insuranceA 16-year-old boy in Arkansas is in stable condition after being accidentally shot Monday afternoon by his 15-year-old friend, 5News reported.

The shooting took place at 1:43 p.m. in Fort Smith, Ark., after Nico Sanders, his twin brother Marco and their friend, Trevor Hargrove, had been playing a “zombie game,” according to 5News. Hargrove pointed an empty bow at one of the brothers when Nico Sanders grabbed a .40 caliber handgun from his mother’s drawer and began to play with it. He soon pointed the gun at Hargrove and fired the weapon, striking the boy in the upper torso.

This Clown Wasn’t Supposed to HAVE a Gun!

From Talking Points Memohandgun-shutterstock_126226985

A Lake County, Florida couple have been arrested on charges of child neglect after a 4-year-old shot off a piece of his finger with a gun that was left on their couch, WKMG Local 6 reports.

Donald Greeson, 40, told police he had smoked marijuana and took prescription pills the day before the shooting incident. Police also found drugs and prescription pills within reach of the child. In addition to child neglect, Donald Greeson was also charged with “unsafe storage of a firearm, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, possession of ammunition by a convicted felon, possession of paraphernalia and possession of methamphetamine,” according to WKMG Local 6.

The child’s finger was removed in a local hospital.



Maybe it’s just me. But it seems like hardly a day goes by without reading another story about some child in Texas being shot by another child or by himself with some unattended gun that some idiot left where the kid could get it.

Maybe it’s just me. But if I own guns and have little kids around, and I see these stories about kids being shot and injured by guns they were able to get their little grape jelly-stained hands on, I’d do a double check to make sure that any little kids in MY house were not able to put their grubby little mitts on MY guns.

But Texas. Almost every day. Another tragedy.

NRA Raising $$$ on False Claims? Surprised?


From Think Progress.

The National Rifle Association is stoking the misguided fears of its members that the United Nations is coming to steal their guns through an international arms treaty in an attempt to raise funds needed to help block the treaty in the Senate.

In an email sent out on Wednesday to its supporters, the NRA ominously warned about the coming collusion between the United Nations and President Obama in the name of “trampling our Second Amendment freedoms.” The vehicle for this complete destruction of the Constitution? The recently passed United Nations Arms Trade Treaty (ATT), which opens for signature on June 3. Despite the fact that only North Korea, Syria, and Iran voted against the treaty, the right-wing in the United States has long opposed what it sees as a chance for the government to legally steal Americans’ handguns.