Dueling Rifles

By Jim Ellis

Sept. 22, 2016 — Within the past week, the gun issue took center stage in the Missouri Senate campaign, and the candidates’ ad war is now drawing serious national attention.

Democratic nominee Jason Kander caused a stir with his response featuring him assembling an AR-15 rifle blindfolded (above), all the while defending himself against an NRA attack ad and points from Sen. Roy Blunt (R) accusing him of failing to support the 2nd Amendment. Yesterday, Blunt returned fire with an equally clever ad (below).

It all began last week when the NRA Political Victory Fund ran an independent expenditure ad that attacked Kander for his vote in the state legislature against a law that allows Missouri citizens to, as the NRA ad script says, “protect your home with a firearm.” The text refers to a 2009 bill that Kander opposed when he was a member of the state House of Representatives (watch the NRA ad below).

Kander’s paid media response shows him standing behind a table in what looks like a warehouse setting, assembling an assault rifle while blindfolded. In doing so, Kander tells the story of his Army service time in Afghanistan and how he volunteered as an “extra gun in a convoy of unarmored SUVs” and that “in the legislature [he] voted to defend 2nd Amendment rights”. He closes by saying he’d like to see “Sen. Blunt do this,” meaning assembling the rifle blindfolded.

While Kander succeeded in attracting attention to his campaign effort, and certainly highlights his unquestioned Army service in Afghanistan while displaying serious manual dexterity, he never provides evidence refuting the NRA claim (although Kander attributes the attacks to Blunt) that he “refused to defend your 2nd Amendment right in Jefferson City”. Neither would Sen. Blunt’s ability to assemble or not assemble a rifle blindfolded prove whether he nor Kander adequately promotes or defends the 2nd Amendment.

The Blunt response, however, takes the next step. While clearly not accepting Kander’s challenge for the senator to assemble a rifle blindfolded, the Republican’s new campaign ad features eight other blindfolded people and Kander doing so, some even while holding the rifle upside down. The Blunt announcer then points out that only one of those connecting the gun parts “is a Hillary Clinton national campaign chairman, only one received an “F” for his failure to defend the 2nd Amendment (as a graphic of Kander’s gun morphs into the letter F), [and] only one supports amnesty for illegal immigrants”.

Obviously, the escalating Show Me State campaign is reaching high gear. While Kander scored an ace with his gun ad, Blunt appears to have successfully held serve. All await the next installment.

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