Former congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords is urging key senators to support expanded background checks for gun purchases in new television ads airing in Iowa and her home state of Arizona.
The ads specifically target Senators Charles Grassley (R-IA) and Jeff Flake (R-AZ), two lawmakers who have made statements supporting background checks in the past. The ads include black and white images after high-profile mass shootings at a Colorado movie theater and a Connecticut elementary school.
“The ads are very powerful,” said Republican strategist Chris Wilson on Jansing & Co. “They follow a well-established approach that we call the Brady approach where we take someone that’s a victim of gun crime and then we go after background checks.”
Grassley and Flake have “A” ratings from the National Rifle Association and come from states with large numbers of gun owners. Both lawmakers are also members of the Senate Judiciary Committee which will review several gun bills on Thursday, including one on universal background checks.
MSNBC political analyst Karen Finney added that expanding background checks is important legislation for law enforcement.
“I take it from the folks on the front lines — the police chiefs,” said Finney. “They say the number one thing that would be most helpful would be background checks so they know who’s got guns.”
Wilson argued that background checks are not addressing the real problem.
“The more important thing to do is to overhaul the mental health system so that lunatics like the one who attacked Giffords are treated,” said Wilson. “ The fact is these are mental health issues and not gun issues.”
The ads come from Americans for Responsible Solutions, the gun control group started by Giffords and her husband Mark Kelly. The ads will run this week and next at a cost of six figures.
On Wednesday afternoon, Giffords spoke at the Safeway supermarket where she and others were shot in 2011. She urged lawmakers with a simple statement: “Be bold, be courageous, please support background checks.”