New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is a staunch advocate for stricter gun control, and is targeting Democrats in his efforts to keep the issue at the forefront of the Congressional agenda. His group Mayors Against Illegal Guns is launching ads against three Democratic senators who rejected last month's bill to expand background checks.
Bloomberg is targeting Mark Pryor of Arkansas, Max Baucus of Montana, and Mark Begich of Alaska for their "no" votes on the bill which would have mandated universal background checks for gun purchases. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., attempted to dissuade the group from running the ads because it could increase the vulnerability of those senators in 2014, but to no avail. Democrats hope to maintain their majority in the Senate in next year's elections, but may face an even tougher battle if vulnerable candidates are attacked by both Republicans and the typically pro-Democratic gun control lobby.
Ads against Pryor will focus on the African-American community, a key constituency for the senator if he hopes to be reelected. But he says the ads don't frighten him:
Quite honestly, I'm here to represent Arkansas. I think people on all sides, in all parties and all groups, they need to go back to civics class and maybe read the Constitution and realize we're here to represent our states and the people who sent us to Washington.
He said he has received "lots of positive feedback" from constituents regarding his vote on the background checks bill.
Democrats and the White House continue to push gun control, hoping to maintain the momentum the issue gained following the December shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School that killed 20 children and six adults. Vice President Joe Biden wrote in an op-ed for the Houston Chronicle that senators who voted against the bill are already starting to feel the political consequences of opposing it:
For too long, members of Congress have been afraid to vote against the wishes of the NRA, even when the vast majority of their constituents support what the NRA opposes. That fear has become such an article of faith that even in the face of evidence to the contrary, a number of senators voted against basic background checks, against a federal gun trafficking statute and against other common-sense measures because they feared a backlash.
Whether senators are rewarded for bucking the NRA or punished for following its orders, the message is clear: If you don't support gun safety, your voters won't support you.
Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, up for reelection in 2018, also voted against the bill. Mayors Against Illegal Guns said she too must feel repercussions for her vote.
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