A new National Rifle Association ad attacking Mary Landrieu’s record is certainly emotionally compelling. “Mary Landrieu voted to take away your gun rights,” it says amid a display of images of police tape surrounding the upper-middle-class home of a wife and child, who were presumably harmed by an intruder. But does it have a basis in fact? Glenn Kessler looks at what’s really going on.
“The ad, which is part of an $11 million election-year campaign to influence key races, itself does not cite a source for its assertion about Landrieu’s record,” Kessler writes. “But the NRA’s documentation cites her vote in favor of the amendment to bolster gun background checks, authored by Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) and Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Penn.).”
The Manchin-Toomey proposal, on a vote of 54-46, failed to overcome a Senate filibuster last year. The NRA took a hard line against the measure, which would have essentially “expanded background checks to gun shows and Internet sales, but the lawmakers said it would not have affected sales by friends and family members.”
When The Fact Checker first asked NRA spokesperson Andrew Arulanandam how the Manchin-Toomey bill would have affected the woman in the ad, he said, “One example of how M-T infringes on individual gun rights and takes them away is by limiting who a person can sell a firearm without first asking the government’s permission. Say you have a stalker and you are a located in a remote area and there are limited places for you to purchase a gun in a pinch. Your cousin’s neighbor down the street wants to sell you his shotgun. He can’t if M-T is law.”
Never mind that the home depicted in the ad did not appear to be in a remote area. When asked the same question, the Toomey and Manchin staffs explained that part of it has to do with whether a gun for sale has been advertised on the Internet or in a publication, and whether you knew about it. No background check was required if you were unaware.
The Fact Checker went back to Arulanandam, who admitted, “A neighbor could still loan or sell a firearm to another neighbor who was a victim of stalking, etc., if they arranged the transaction between themselves outside of a gun show and not by means of a prohibited advertisement, and the recipient wouldn’t have to go through the mandatory check.”
In other words, even if the Manchin-Toomey bill had become law, the hypothetical woman in the ad could still have bought a shotgun from her cousin’s neighbor.
Nothing in the bill would have prevented anyone from buying a weapon for self-defense, and even the NRA’s lawyers acknowledge it.