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Gun Control Ad Hits Airwaves In Virginia

Friday, April 17, 2009

Virginia, which, along with New Jersey, is one of two states with off-year elections this year, has been targeted by the anti-gunners, who are seeking to advance their agenda this election season as a run-up to the 2010 midterm elections. 

Americans United for Safe Streets, a Washington, D.C.-based group heavily bankrolled by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg (I), has fired an opening salvo in Virginia's elections with an ad featuring Omar Samaha, whose sister was tragically killed by a criminal madman at Virginia Tech. 

In the ad, Samaha blames the mythical gun show "loophole" for the death of his sister and 30 others.  In reality, no loophole exists; all laws that govern sales outside gun shows, apply equally at gun shows. 

The ad urges viewers to contact Virginia Republican gubernatorial nominee Bob McDonnell, and ask him "why he is protecting criminals."  What the ad conveniently chooses to ignore is that as a state delegate and former Virginia Attorney General, Bob McDonnell has taken the lead on many crime-fighting initiatives, including:  mandatory minimum prison sentences for violent child sex predators, strengthening mental health laws (including gun sales to prohibited persons), and being the chief patron of former Governor George Allen's Juvenile Justice Reform Initiative, to name just a few. 

But could the ad represent more than just politics as usual?  There is history between then-Attorney General Bob McDonnell and Mayor Bloomberg. 

In 2007, following a series of Bloomberg-sponsored undercover "sting" operations at gun shops in states including Virginia, Virginia passed a law prohibiting the Bloomberg practice of sending out civilian investigators who deliberately attempted to simulate straw purchases. 

In a letter to Bloomberg written April 13, 2007, McDonnell left no ambiguity about the Mayor's actions:  "As you know, the U.S. Department of Justice recently wrote to you that such activity is counterproductive to legitimate law enforcement efforts to police illegal firearm trafficking, and has potential legal liabilities.  Representatives of your Office have apparently suggested publicly that they may continue such simulated firearm transactions in Virginia perhaps with a view towards further litigation.  The new legislation passed this year at my insistence and signed by Governor Kaine, makes clear that such non-law enforcement activities related to undercover illegal firearm purchases will be punishable as a felony in Virginia." 

Another glaring omission in the ad is the fact that the Virginia Tech shooter didn't get his gun at a gun show, but rather from a federally licensed dealer.  The shooter cleared a NICS check, though he shouldn't have due to his mental history--a shortcoming NRA worked to correct through enactment in 2008 of the "NICS Improvement Amendments Act".  Among other things, this important reform: 

  • Creates incentives for states to upgrade their records on criminals and others currently prohibited from buying guns.
  • Improves the accuracy and completeness of NICS by requiring federal agencies and participating states to provide relevant records to the FBI. For instance, it would give states an incentive to report those who were adjudicated by a court to be "mentally defective," a danger to themselves, a danger to others or suicidal.
  • Requires a Government Accountability Office audit of past NICS improvement spending.

Unlike this relatively new advocacy group that is exploiting tragedy to advance a political agenda, NRA has worked for 20 years to ensure that the records of those who are prohibited from legally owning a firearm are included in an instant background check.  Also, unlike anti-gun groups, NRA has supported safeguards against abuses of the system that would harm gun owners' rights. 

View the misleading political ad:

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