How McSally Should Frame The Gun Debate In AZ Senate Race

For Second Amendment supporters, the choice in the special election for the U.S. Senate seat in Arizona is an easy one. Republican Martha McSally has an “A” rating from the National Rifle Association, while Democrat Mark Kelly helped create one of the nation’s biggest and well-funded gun control groups. Still, McSally is far from a perfect candidate, and her awkward attacks on Kelly’s support for gun control haven’t been nearly as effective as they could be.

Gun control wasn’t one of the top issues in the campaign until McSally and Kelly met on a debate stage last week. That’s when McSally first brought up Giffords, the gun control organization founded by Kelly and his wife, former congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, who suffered severe injuries in an active assailant attack in Tuscon, Arizona back in 2011. Rather than go after Kelly for supporting all kinds of draconian gun control laws, however, McSally tried to use the gun control group to tie Kelly to far-Left Democrats like Minnesota congresswoman Ilhan Omar.

A show-stopping moment during last week’s Senate debate between Republican Sen. Martha McSally and her Democratic opponent Mark Kelly came when the senator accused Kelly of having a part in a “radical political organization” tied to the “extreme left” fringe of the Democratic Party.

Without explaining the nature of the group or naming it, McSally charged that Kelly, a retired NASA astronaut who is running as a moderate Democrat, had been “a political operative for a decade … Some of the most extreme, left-wing candidates in our country running for office, bankrolling them, endorsing them.”

Pressed to explain her attack, McSally punted to her rival.

“I think he knows,” she said, adding the group “has raised $57 million.”

Kelly responded that McSally was talking about Giffords, the national organization that is named after his wife, former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, and was formed to end gun violence.

“Gabby was injured, shot in the head, in 2011,” Kelly said. “The issue of gun violence is personal for Gabby and me, and I’ll never forget what she went through for that year and a half. In the hospital for six months, a year of significant rehab …  So we formed an organization to try to make communities, and help communities become safer from gun violence.”

Obviously Gabrielle Giffords is a sympathetic figure in Arizona, and the way McSally framed her attack allowed Mark Kelly to define the gun control group he and his wife founded on their own terms. Since then the local press, including the Arizona Republic, have done several puff pieces on the efforts of Giffords, while the McSally campaign has stuck with their line of attack; going after the gun control group for the candidates that it supports, while not talking much at all about the actual gun control laws that the Giffords gun control group is pushing across the country.

“This is about who Mark Kelly has spent the last decade supporting and sending to Washington: the most liberal Democrats who have been champions for infringing on our Constitutional rights, open borders, socialized medicine, defunding the police and the many other radical ideas that are now mainstream in the Democrat Party,” said Caroline Anderegg, McSally’s campaign spokesperson. “Mark has been on an unabashed crusade to open the door for these ideas and roll back our Second Amendment rights, and that he tries to claim otherwise further proves he’ll say anything to get elected.”

If McSally is going to hit Mark Kelly for his support for gun control, then she needs to be specific and target her message to Arizona voters. The easiest and most effective way to do that is to point out that Mark Kelly’s gun control group gave California an “A” for its gun laws, while giving Arizona an “F”.

The message that McSally needs to deliver is simple: “Arizonans, don’t let Mark Kelly Californicate Your Second Amendment Rights.” That is the issue.

According to the New York Times, for the past decade about 250,000 people have moved to Arizona every year, and the number one state folks are fleeing is California. It costs $1000 to rent a U-Haul from Orange County, California to Phoenix, but only $100 for a U-Haul from Phoenix to Orange County. Many Arizonans are already worried about what the influx of Californians is doing to the state’s politics, and by focusing on the California gun laws embraced by Mark Kelly’s gun control group McSally can drive home the point that Kelly’s anti-gun agenda would upend the Second Amendment rights of Arizonans.

California residents are moving to Arizona for a variety of reasons, including the state’s restrictive gun policies, yet Arizonans are poised to send Kelly to the U.S. Senate where he’ll work on imposing California-style gun control laws in all 50 states. Yes, his gun control group has backed far-Left politicians like Ilhan Omar in Minnesota, but that matters far less to most Arizona gun owners than the actual gun control laws that Omar, Kelly, and his allies on Capitol Hill are sure to put in place if they take control of Congress and the White House.

My free and unsolicited advice to the McSally campaign in the waning weeks of the campaign is to make it clear to voters what’s at stake in this election: the Californication of the right to keep and bear arms. Gun and magazine bans, waiting periods for firearms purchases, an end to online sales of ammunition and firearms parts, legal attacks designed to bankrupt the firearms industry, and discriminatory gun licensing laws; all are on the table if Mark Kelly helps Democrats take control of the U.S. Senate. McSally needs to drop the references to Ilhan Omar and focus on the fact that as much as Mark Kelly claims to support the Second Amendment, he’s actually embraced an anti-gun agenda that would turn the right to keep and bear arms into a privilege.