Pro-Obama group targets pro-gun Democrats with ‘shame’ ad

Patrick Howley | Political Reporter

The liberal Coalition to Stop Gun Violence released a video ad Wednesday condemning Democratic Georgia Rep. John Barrow for not fully supporting President Barack Obama’s gun control policies.

The ad, which states, “Shame on You, John Barrow,” is an attempt to force the Democrat to change his position and “support the president’s gun policy proposals,” according to a Coalition press release.

The one-minute ad cuts back and forth between clips of a Barrow 2012 campaign commercial, in which he states “I’m proud to be endorsed by the NRA,” with news footage of shooting massacres.

The Coalition to Stop Gun Violence previously launched an ad campaign targeting Democratic North Dakota Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, who criticized Obama’s gun control policies as “extreme.”

After the Coalition ran ads, signed by parents of mass shooting victims, with the message “Shame on You,” and encouraged members of the public to flood Heitkamp’s office with phone calls, Heitkamp changed her position, according to the Coalition.

“We have a responsibility to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and the mentally ill,” Heitkamp subsequently said.

“I think to some degree having Democrats oppose [the president’s gun control agenda] hurts it more than having Republicans oppose it, in the same way that Speaker Boehner having Republicans opposing him hurts,” Coalition spokesman Ladd Everitt told The Daily Caller.

The Coalition has now set its sights on Barrow, who released a statement Wednesday mildly criticizing Obama’s new gun control policies, which include a federal assault weapons ban and 23 executive actions.

“I support the president’s call for stronger enforcement of existing gun crime laws, because that’s been the real problem.  But I strongly disagree with proposals that would deny law abiding citizens their Second Amendment rights, and I’m disappointed he did not propose increased security measures for our schools,” Barrow said in the statement.

“We need to find practical solutions to gun violence that are consistent with the Second Amendment, rather than having another political debate in Washington that divides Americans,” Barrow added.

“Representative John Barrow has decided to put his love of the NRA above his concern for his fellow Americans. That is not acceptable,” Coalition to Stop Gun Violence executive director Josh Horwitz said in a statement.

The Coalition also condemned Barrow for accepting $27,250 in NRA campaign contributions over a period of eight years. “Rep. Barrow has been bought for the price of a new truck.  It would be laughable if his lack of regard for our families’ safety wasn’t so dangerous,” Horwitz said.

The Coalition to Stop Gun Violence is comprised of 48 member organizations, including the liberal lobbying group Americans for Democratic Action, the pro-Obama labor union the United Federation of Teachers, and the National Urban League. Obama spoke at the National Urban League annual conference in July, prior to the Newtown massacre, stating that gun restrictions should be “common sense.”

Barrow’s statement represents a notable Democratic departure from the party line, as the administration plans to use the existing Obama for America campaign infrastructure to publicly push for the president’s gun control policies.

Vice President Joe Biden told Democratic lawmakers this week that the existing Obama re-election campaign infrastructure will be used to mobilize the public on the gun control issue. CNN reported last week that Obama’s 2012 campaign, Obama for America, will be utilized to push the president’s second term policies.

Coalition spokesman Everitt stressed to TheDC that the Coalition did not coordinate with the White House or with Obama for America on either the Heitkamp or Barrow ads.

Obama’s gun policies have placed Barrow in a difficult political position, as he struggles to pay lip service to the Democratic agenda while keeping in mind his own political interests in an increasingly Republican, pro-Second Amendment district.

Barrow was recently identified by the National Republican Congressional Committee as a top target to defeat in 2014. Barrow was considered highly vulnerable in his 2012 re-election race due to a redistricting that cost him his liberal base in Savannah, but Barrow held on to win with 54 percent of the vote.

In late December, Barrow also split with Obama’s agenda by opposing the president’s executive order authorizing congressional and vice presidential pay raises, calling the order “irresponsible.”

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