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Mayors Against Illegal Guns targets first Democrat

May 24, 2013|By Morgan Little

The Michael Bloomberg-backed group Mayors Against Illegal Guns is following up on its promise to hound Senate Democrats who voted against gun control legislation in April.

In an ad that launched Friday, Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) is implored by a witness to the murder of state Democratic Party Chair Bill Gwatney in 2008 to revisit his vote on the failed bipartisan effort to expand background checks on gun purchases.

“The pain of that experience will always be a part of me,” Angela Bradford-Barnes says in the ad. “Like 84% of Arkansans I support universal background checks. Thus, I was heart broken to see that Senator Pryor opposed the bipartisan bill because it will save lives. “

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The Mayors Against Illegal Guns ad is its first targeting a Democrat, following earlier ads launched against Sens. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) and Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.).

Pryor, in a statement Friday, condemned the ad as “disgusting,” accusing the group of politicizing Gwatney’s death.

“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,” Pryor said. 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.”

Pryor hasn’t shut the door completely on new gun control measures, saying earlier this month that he would consider a combination of the defeated proposal from Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) and Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) and an alternative from Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Ted Cruz (R-Texas).

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Under the Grassley-Cruz plan, straw purchasing and trafficking of guns would be criminalized and school security as well as efforts to keep guns out of the hands of the mentally ill would be expanded. Background checks, however, would remain largely untouched.

Pryor, up for reelection in 2014, is already facing attacks from the right, with Club for Growth Action and the Senate Conservatives Fund already launching ads against his candidacy. And in addition to Mayors Against Illegal Guns, the pro-Obama group Organizing for Action has also announced Pryor as a target for his vote on background checks.

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