Len DiSesa is a retired deputy police chief and a gun owner who “believes strongly” in the 2nd Amendment. In a letter to the editor of the Portsmouth Herald, he rejects Sen. Kelly Ayotte’s argument for voting against expanded gun background checks.
“I think Sen. Ayotte is looking to the next election and is pandering to the right wing extremist base of her party,” he writes:
Her rationale for voting against background checks defies reason, and seems to me to be very, very thin. Sure, we should all work to keep guns out of the hands of the mentally ill. We should also work hard to keep them from driving a car or a bus, or piloting an airplane. That’s a no-brainer and a convenient smokescreen for anyone arguing against using background checks as another tool in our toolbox to protect innocent lives.
We have stronger DWI laws in effect today than we did 30 years ago. As a result, motor vehicle deaths due to drunken driving have dropped dramatically. We have not eliminated all DWI-related deaths or injuries, I doubt we could ever do that, but at least we have successfully put a dent into the problem. Using the argument of Sen. Ayotte and those who think as she does, we should have just enforced more strictly the existing DWI laws on the books, and we should not have legislated enhanced penalties because, according to that argument, if someone wants to drink and drive, they will. That is as specious an argument as is the one being used to block background checks.
In an editorial defending the vote by Sen. Kelly Ayotte against expanding background checks for gun purchasers, the Union Leader claims the “great majority” of Granite Staters support her position:
A single poll’s number showing general support for unspecified “stronger” background checks does not mean that most constituents disagree with Sen. Ayotte’s position.
A single poll? Unspecified “stronger” background checks? Really?
I count at least three surveys of New Hampshire voters this year that include very specific proposals for expanding background checks. And all show overwhelming majorities of Granite Staters support the legislation that Ayotte voted against.
“There is a national proposal for universal gun background checks for gun sales through dealers, shows, and private individuals. Do you support the idea of universal background checks for gun purchases?”
When Republicans mugged U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice over her initial explanation of the attack in Benghazi, Sen. Kelly Ayotte was the lead assailant. “I have to tell you with the comments she made on those Sunday shows — that was either incompetence or blatantly misleading the American people,” she told Fox News.
Now we know Rice played no role in crafting the Benghazi talking points and there was no attempt at a cover-up. Emails released this week show the talking points reflected the administration consensus at the time.
The Rev. Al Sharpton said the “smear campaign against Ambassador Rice was vicious, personal, and wrong.” Ayotte should apologize, he declared. So did Arizona blogger AzBlueMeanie:
The worst purveyors of this “Benghazi! Benghazi!! Benghazi!!!” faux scandal have been the new Three Stooges, Sens. John McCain, his puppet boy Little Lindsey Graham, and Kelly Ayotte as “Shemp.” They have perpetrated a fraud for purely partisan political retaliation. They besmirched the reputation of U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice, who has been vindicated by the emails released this week.
The new Three Stooges owe Susan Rice and the American people an apology. They have demonstrated their utter lack of character and judgment to serve in the U.S. Senate. If they had any honor, they would submit their resignations from the U.S. Senate for their indefensible actions.
The Last Word’s Lawrence O’Donnell explains the “standard Washington trick” that Sen. Kelly Ayotte is using — with an assist from the NRA — to obscure her unpopular vote against expanding gun background checks:
The National Rifle Association’s defense of Kelly Ayotte’s vote against background checks was to say she actually voted for background checks, something that the NRA opposed.
And here’s how that particular sleight of hand works. It is a standard Washington trick. After Kelly Ayotte stood on the Senate floor as part of a minority that was able to block the will of the majority of the Senate to legislate expanded background checks, she stood on the Senate floor and voted for a fake background check bill so that later she could claim, if she needed to, that she voted for some kind of background checks.
The bill that Sen. Ayotte voted for was, in effect, written by the NRA and actually would have weakened the current law on background checks and would have made it easier for people with dangerous mental illness to get guns.
So Kelly Ayotte voted for the NRA’s re-write of the bipartisan background check bill written by Sens. Joe Manchin and Pat Toomey, the one that everyone was really paying attention to, and now the NRA in its TV ad is re-writing Sen. Ayotte’s vote to sound like she voted for the Manchin-Toomey bill, the thing that New Hampshire wanted her to vote for.
Sen. Kelly Ayotte’s vote opposing gun safety legislation did “irreparable harm” to her chances for re-election, writes Dean Barker. In rushing to her defense, Barker adds, Sen. Marco Rubio hurt his chances with the undeclared voters who are key to wining the New Hampshire primary:
When [Ayotte] sided with the NRA and not with 91% of the state over background checks, with the resulting poll numbers and the fiasco of her town halls, she did irreparable harm to her chances. The way she is viewed now by Granite Staters has changed for the worse. Now she’s to the right of… just about every Republican peer in New England. Getting the undeclareds needed to keep her seat in the Village has now become a steep uphill climb for her. …
[Rubio] was probably advised that by helping Ayotte now, he’ll get the upper hand in support from either her (unlikely) and her network (maybe) when running for president.
But the wiser path was to steer clear of the self-inflicted damage Ayotte did to herself. Now he’s associated with propping up a position opposed by almost a totality of voters in the state.
As I noted earlier, Greg Sargent has written senators who voted against the Manchin-Toomey background check bill “recognize that support for improving background checks is the politically necessary position to take.” They are now staking out positions to that effect — rather than saying, for example, “I will never apologize for defending the Second Amendment, and you liberals can just suck on it.”
Actually, Sen. Kelly Ayotte has done both.
Yes, in op-eds published around the state, she claimed she supports “effective background checks” and insisted that she “voted recently to improve the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS).”
But in a fundraising email to supporters, Ayotte staunchly defended her vote against closing loopholes in the background check system by claiming it would have violated the 2nd Amendment. ”I’m under attack for standing up for the U.S. Constitution,” she wrote, “by voting against flawed legislation that would have compromised our 2nd Amendment rights while doing nothing to prevent horrific tragedies such as Newtown. I won’t back down.”
Which side are you on Kelly? Which side are you on?
After seeing the new ad from Marco Rubio’s Reclaim America PAC, Slate’s Dave Weigel draws the same conclusion that Greg Sargent did today: Republicans “need to pretend that Ayotte really did support a background checks bill:”
Conservatives are admitting, with their ad dollars, that the throttling of Manchin-Toomey really did hurt a few Republicans. Ayotte isn’t even up for re-election until 2016! In a state like New Hampshire, which regularly elects Republicans statewide but has trended towards the Democrats, they need to pretend that Ayotte really did support a background checks bill. Only the NRA ad attempts to source that claim, citing Ayotte’s aye for the Grassley amendment. But gun control advocates opposed the Grassley amendment; it loosened the prohibition on sales to people “adjudicated mentally ill,” it didn’t close the private sales loophole, and it was basically thrown down at the last minute to give Republicans something to vote for. And it worked—here are the TV ads allowing Ayotte to be portrayed not as someone who went along with the GOP plan to kill Manchin-Toomey, but as a moderate who voted for something.
Washington Post’s Greg Sargent notes campaigns by groups supporting Sen. Kelly Ayotte, including the NRA and Marco Rubio’s Reclaim America PAC, emphasize her supposed support for gun background checks. “That seems like a pretty good sign of which way the political winds are blowing on the issue,” he concludes:
It’s true that Ayotte did vote for an alternative proposal, sponsored by Chuck Grassley, that would have beefed up state sharing of mental health data with the feds, without extending the background check to private sales via commercial portals on the internet and at gun shows. But some gun control groups believe the Grassley approach would actually undermine the overall background check system. What’s more, it needs to be stated again that Senators can support improving data sharing while simultaneously expanding the background check to close the private seller loophole, which unquestionably remains a major problem, as detailed in two terrific New York Times pieces recently — here, and here. There is no need to choose between the two.
It’s interesting that Republican Senators who voted No on Manchin-Toomey — such as Ayotte and Jeff Flake — are not staking out a harder stance here by saying only that, hey, I will never apologize for defending the Second Amendment, and you liberals can just suck on it. Instead, even though they are not willing to support expanding the background check system to close a loophole that poses a threat to public safety, apparently because the NRA won’t let them, they recognize that support for improving background checks is the politically necessary position to take — and is indeed the one that is tantamount to defending children and families from gun violence.
I’m under attack for standing up for the U.S. Constitution by voting against flawed legislation that would have compromised our 2nd Amendment rights while doing nothing to prevent horrific tragedies such as Newtown. I won’t back down.
Erin Faith Page, a 24-year-old self-identified lesbian, will be the student commencement speaker next week at New England College. She made this video to protest the selection of Sen. Kelly Ayotte to give the keynote address at the graduation ceremony:
Sen. Kelly Ayotte is an avid anti-gay marriage, anti-same sex adoption and anti-choice senator. She is one of the leading voices asking for the repeal of gay marriage in New Hampshire and has worked hard to create a state where myself and others are not seen through the same lens and are not worthy of equal treatment under our laws.
So I have had to truly struggle with this conundrum. One of the happiest days of my life will also have a shadow over it. As I sit and listen to our keynote address, given by a senator who does not believe in my worth, the voice that used to tell me I would never amount to anything will try to creep back in. Luckily, I have had an education at the best college on earth, where I have learned how to tell people like her and that voice that they are wrong.
Sen. Kelly Ayotte is either “a dumbbell or a liar,” says former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell. On Philadelphia talk radio today, Rendell ridiculed Ayotte for saying she voted against gun background check legislation because it would have created a federal registry. Rendell told host Dom Giordano that either Ayotte “didn’t read the bill or she’s outright lying:”
The bill says quite clearly that any attempt to use this information to build a federal registry is a felony punishable by 15 years in prison. So for someone like Kelly Ayotte, that dumbbell senator from New Hampshire, to say she voted against it because she fears that it would create a registry, either she didn’t read the bill or she’s outright lying. …
Either she’s a dumbbell or a liar. Because if she read the bill, she’d know that it was preventative of a federal registry and makes it stronger. It guarantees that there will be no federal registry.