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NRA unveils ad campaign to push back on Biden's gun agenda

Celine Castronuovo - The Hill | Published on 4/29/2021

The National Rifle Association (NRA) on Wednesday launched a $2 million campaign targeting gun control proposals backed by President Biden and top Democrats, including a federal assault weapons ban.  

The group officially unveiled a series of ads in states home to senators who could serve as swing votes on a number of gun control measures. 

The NRA told The Hill that more than $400,000 is being spent on TV ads in Maine, West Virginia and Montana alone that call on elected officials to “Stop Biden’s gun grab.” 

Digital advertising and mail campaigns will also be carried out in states like Florida, Arizona and Pennsylvania. 

Some of the NRA’s ads specifically target Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), who are once again working to advance previously proposed bipartisan legislation aiming to expand background checks to all commercial gun sales, including those at gun shows or on the internet.

In the West Virginia ad, the NRA tells voters that “President Biden’s political machine is setting its sights” on the state by “calling for a ban on commonly owned firearms and magazines.” 

The ad also criticizes Biden’s decision to nominate David Chipman, policy adviser to the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, for director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. 

“But Sen. Joe Manchin can stop him [Biden],” the ad continues. “Contact Joe Manchin’s office today and tell Joe to vote against Chipman’s nomination and reject President Biden’s extreme gun control agenda.”

NRA spokeswoman Amy Hunter told The Hill that Chipman was a “radical gun control lobbyist” and that his nomination “shows exactly how far his administration will go to to restrict the rights of law-abiding gun owners.” 

“Americans should not be forced to live in fear in a political climate in which government leaders are outrightly hostile to a fundamental and guaranteed freedom enshrined in our Bill of Rights,” Hunter added. 

Calls for more comprehensive gun control legislation have intensified in recent weeks amid a series of mass shootings, including in Atlanta, Boulder and Indianapolis. 

Biden himself has called for Congress to pass a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, as well as other measures like removing gun manufacturers' immunity from liability in mass shootings and other incidents of gun violence. 

Two gun control bills recently passed in the Democrat-controlled House, one to extend the window for completing a background check before a gun sale and a second that would extend background checks to all sales and transfers. 

However, while Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) has vowed to put forth the House bills before the Senate, it is unlikely that 10 Republicans will cross party lines to reach the 60-vote threshold needed to move the legislation forward. 

Manchin himself has said that he does not support the House-backed bills, instead saying he would rather see the bipartisan Manchin-Toomey bill passed.