NRA "Hunter" Ad Truth Check

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The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence Cites Falsehoods Similar to Past Attacks on Senator McCain

The NRA blasts Sen. McCain and Sen. Lieberman in its First Freedom magazine, September, 2002

The NRA's credibility in this Presidential race should be questioned. Over the years, they have vilified both of the candidates

According to the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, the National Rifle Association has begun airing an ad in selected markets this week featuring a character portraying a hunter and making allegations about the legislative record of Senator Barack Obama, the Democratic nominee for President.

The ad "takes ludicrous liberties with the truth," Brady President Paul Helmke said. "The NRA talks a lot about freedom, and when it comes to political ads it must mean the freedom to distort and deceive."

NRA AD CLAIM: "… voted to ban virtually all deer hunting ammunition."

REALITY: It was a lie when the NRA made a similar allegation against Senator John Kerry in the 2004 Presidential campaign and it's still a lie.

In the amendment cited by the ad, Senator Edward Kennedy (D-MA) wanted to close a loophole in the existing Federal ban on "cop killer bullets" - armor-piercing ammunition. Current law was (and still is) based primarily on the characteristics of the projectile - the metal used, size and weight. Senator Kennedy's amendment would have set up a system so that the Attorney General could test and then ban certain types of ammunition that were capable of piercing law enforcement body armor. The idea was to also have functional testing of ammunition, since manufacturers of armor-piercing ammunition could design around the characteristics in the federal law then (and still now) in place. It would have kept in place the exception in federal law that says that armor piercing ammunition does not include "a projectile which the Attorney General finds is primarily intended to be used for sporting purposes."

The amendment language is available at: and

NRA AD CLAIM: "He also supports a ban on the shotguns and rifles most of us use for hunting."

REALITY: Senator Obama supported the Federal ban on military-style semiautomatic assault weapons, which was in place from 1994 until 2004 and only outlawed specific types of firearms such as AK-47s and their copycats. The law did not ban conventional hunting guns and specifically listed 661 sporting rifles that explicitly were not prohibited. "The NRA has always distorted the assault weapons issue," Helmke said. "The Federal law endorsed by George W. Bush only banned military-style semiautomatic weapons, such as AK-47s and Uzis, which are not what responsible individuals generally use to hunt."

Obama's discussion of the ban was in the second debate with Republican Alan Keyes (not the third debate as the NRA cited) during their 2004 race for U.S. Senate from Illionois:

OBAMA: "Well, let's be clear. Mr. Keyes, for example, does not believe in common gun safety laws like the assault weapons bill. I have, as one of my guests today, the head of the Fraternal Order of Police. I'm proud of the support that I've received from that organization, in part, because they are concerned precisely about what Mr. Keyes referred to -- getting shot by assault weapons, when they go in, in an attempt to do a drug bust.

"Now, Mr. Keyes suggested that, somehow, because criminals break the law, that we shouldn't have laws in the first place. That defies logic. People break all sorts of laws, but we still have the laws in place.

"And the fact of the matter is, is that Mr. Keyes does not believe in any limits, that I can tell, with respect to the possession of guns, including assault weapons that have only one purpose, and that is to kill people, unless you're seeing a lot of deer out there wearing bullet-proof vests, then there is no purpose for many of the guns.

"I think it is a scandal that this president did not force a renewal of this assault weapons ban. If it had problems with it, then we should have closed those loopholes that might have made it not as effective as it should have been."

NRA AD CLAIM: "… a huge new tax on my guns and ammo."

REALITY: The 1999 suggestion of an increase in the excise tax on ammunition by Obama (which he has not advocated since) would have taken the excise tax on a cartridge from about four-tenths of a cent per cartridge, the rate established in 1954, to about two cents. The IRS has a 43-cent excise tax on arrows for bows, by comparison. ( Separately, there does not appear to be any basis to the claim that Obama proposed a new tax on guns. The 1999 article cited by the NRA read "Obama is also seeking to increase the federal taxes by 500 percent on the sale of firearm, ammunition [sic]."

"The NRA's credibility in this Presidential race should be questioned. Over the years, they have vilified both of the candidates," Helmke said.

Among other published comments, the NRA has said of McCain:

"… Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., has now become one of the premier flag carriers for the enemies of the Second Amendment." [America's First Freedom Magazine, July 2001.]

"Anti-gun groups, led by Americans for Gun Safety, have teamed with U.S. Sen. John McCain to exploit terrorism in order to advance their gun control agenda…" [America's First Freedom Magazine, February 2002.]

"… he [Senator McCain] apparently believes politicians have the right to denounce and smear anyone they please." [America's First Freedom Magazine, July 2001]

In an article headlined "Two-Faced," with a photo of a snarling Senator McCain, the NRA wrote: "…McCain-Lieberman is a cornucopia of poison bills that would allow a future anti-gun executive branch to shut down gun shows entirely." [America's First Freedom Magazine, September 2002.]

"…according to McCain and AGS [Americans for Gun Safety], the only safe gun is one that is completely inaccessible to the owner in an emergency." [America's First Freedom Magazine, July 2001]

As the nation's largest, non-partisan, grassroots organization leading the fight to prevent gun violence, the Brady Campaign, with its dedicated network of Million Mom March Chapters, works to enact and enforce sensible gun laws, regulations and public policies. The Brady Campaign is devoted to creating an America free from gun violence, where all Americans are safe at home, at school, at work, and in our communities.

Visit the Brady Campaign website at For continuing insight and comment on the gun issue, read Paul Helmke's blog at

Peter Hamm


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