Gun control forces take fight to New Hampshire, Sen. Kelly Ayotte
Gun control advocates are taking their message to the states, through ads, town hall meetings, and shaming campaigns. They poked Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R) of New Hampshire on Tuesday.
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Polls indicate similar trends for some other senators who voted against expanded background checks, including Ayotte. A Public Policy Polling survey also found that half of New Hampshire voters were less likely to support her in 2016 as a result of her vote. Nonetheless, a separate University of New Hampshire poll found her approval rating virtually unchanged, with 50 percent approving of her performance.Skip to next paragraph
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You can be sure gun-control advocates are looking to drive those ratings down.
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s Mayors Against Illegal Guns, President Obama’s Organizing for Action, the liberal think tank Center for American Progress, shooting victim and former US Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, and some of the Newtown families have determined to carry on the gun-control fight, moving from the halls of Congress to the state level and to the airwaves with their message.
At the New Hampshire town hall meeting, Mayors Against Illegal Guns circulated signs reading #ShameOnYou, which were waved at Ayotte, whom critics have dubbed “NRAyotte.”
The same group also released a TV ad on Tuesday attacking the law enforcement credentials of Ayotte, a former state attorney general known for prosecuting some of New Hampshire's most notorious murder cases, with this message: “Senator Ayotte is giving criminals a pass.”
The National Rifle Association, of course, isn’t just standing by. It, along with the National Shooting Sports Foundation, are coming to Ayotte’s defense, airing ads thanking her and others who voted against the gun bill.
“Kelly Ayotte is not just a senator,” says a radio ad sponsored by NRA New Hampshire. “She’s also a mom who cares about protecting our kids. She knows the only way to prevent tragedies like Sandy Hook is to fix our broken mental health system.”
At this point it’s unlikely Ayotte and other senators will yield to the pressure. (Ayotte isn’t up for reelection until 2016, by which point her team hopes the issue will be a distant memory.)
But as The New York Times notes, “there is precedent for a Republican New Hampshire senator having a change of heart on gun control. Judd Gregg, whom Ms. Ayotte succeeded in 2011, initially voted against the assault weapons ban in 1994. He supported it 10 years later when it came up for renewal, though it ultimately never became law.”
Senator Gregg (R) won reelection after that vote, but Rep. Dick Swett (D) of New Hampshire, who cast one of the deciding votes for the assault weapons ban, didn’t fare so well.
He received death threats, started wearing a bulletproof vest, and told the Times, “It was the worst experience of my life.”
Needless to say, he didn’t win a fourth term.
No doubt Ayotte has taken note.