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NHDP - ICYMI: Sunday Editorials Take Kelly Ayotte to Task for Gun Vote, Again 

Concord - In case you missed it, the Granite State's Sunday Editorial pages took Republican Senator Kelly Ayotte to task for voting against bipartisan commonsense background check legislation, again.  The Nashua Telegraph, Concord Monitor, Valley News, and Keene Sentinel all criticized Ayotte's pathetic excuses for her vote against 90% of her constituents.


Concord Monitor Editorial: Ayotte's misdirection isn't working

May 12, 2013

"Magicians rely on misdirection to fool audiences and pull off their tricks. So do politicians when asked tough questions, as Sen. Kelly Ayotte has been at venues like her town hall meeting in Tilton this month. At that event Ayotte relied on misdirection and a magician, former congressman and current state Sen. Jeb Bradley. The one-time professional magician screened audience questions for Ayotte and made many of the ones about her anti-gun control vote disappear. Nice trick."

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Nashua Telegraph Editorial: Ayotte misses mark with gun points

May 12, 2013

"It makes no sense to say just because the NICS doesn't catch everybody that we shouldn't try to catch anybody. Conspicuous by its absence in Ayotte's commentary is any indication of whether she would be willing to support extended background checks under any conditions. She doesn't address the glaring illogic of current law that exempts a significant portion of gun sales. What if all the initiatives she supports came true, would that be enough to convince her that gun show background checks are a good thing? Inquiring minds want to know."

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Valley News Editorial: Ayotte's Preference; Senator Focuses on Mental Health

May 12, 2013

"Here's what we don't understand: Why do the limitations of improved mental health screening give no pause to Ayotte and other advocates of the Protecting Communities bill, but very similar flaws stop them dead in their tracks when it comes to a wider application of background checks? The gun lobby, no doubt, could explain."

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Keene Sentinel Editorial: Faced with hollow arguments, reformers must keep pushing

May 5, 2013

"In a simple, bulleted slide show - and later in her answer to the single question from the audience about guns that she allowed during the hour-long meeting - Ayotte ticked her way through the same National Rifle Association-approved list of talking points she's relied on for weeks."

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This isn't the first time New Hampshire's editorial pages have harshly condemned Kelly Ayotte's vote.  Previously, the Concord Monitor called her statement opposing the bipartisan Manchin-Toomey compromise "utter nonsense." The Keene Sentinel said "Either way, Ayotte owes the people of New Hampshire an explanation. What she's said so far - that the bill would unduly burden law-abiding gun owners - doesn't cut it."  The Valley News wrote her "non-explanation was so vague it raised a number of questions" adding that it wasn't "one anybody would mistake for convincing." The Portsmouth Herald editorialized, "If we don't like how she voted Wednesday it's up to all of us who care about this issue to show Sen. Ayotte she was mistaken by voting her out of office."


NHDP - ICYMI: Kelly Ayotte, staunch advocate for gun safety? Not.

Key Point: "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."


Full text is below and available here:


Washington Post: Kelly Ayotte, staunch advocate for gun safety? Not.

By Greg Sargent, Published: May 13, 2013


A bit of a dispute has broken out over just how much pressure Kelly Ayotte is feeling over her vote against the Manchin-Toomey compromise to expand background checks. The gun control forces have organized to pressure her at town hall meetings and on the air, but conservative media have argued that the pressure on her from the left has been exaggerated.


It's interesting, then, that the major efforts to defend Ayotte by gun rights groups and fellow Republicans tend to emphasize her supposed support for background checks. That seems like a pretty good sign of which way the political winds are blowing on the issue.


Here, for instance, is a new ad that Marco Rubio's Reclaim America PAC is running in New Hampshire. It says this: "Safety. Security. Family. No one understands these things like a mom. Ayotte voted to fix background checks, strengthen mental health screenings and more resources to prosecute criminals using guns."


That message echoes a recent NRA ad that thanks Ayotte for her vote, but also says: "Kelly Ayotte voted for a bipartisan plan to make background checks more effective." Ayotte herself recently defended her vote on the same grounds that she supports.


It's hard not to notice that the thrust of these defenses center on Ayotte's support for background checks, and not her opposition to expanding them.


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.


NHDP - Misleading Rubio Ad Ignores Massive NH Support for Expanding Background Checks

"Notably absent from Rubio's misleading new ad are the words 'new' and 'hampshire,' probably because according to multiple independent polls 90% of New Hampshire citizens support expanding background checks - exactly what Ayotte and Rubio voted against.  It doesn't matter how many deceitful and dishonest ads bought by out of state rightwing politicians and PACs for Kelly Ayotte pollute New Hampshire televisions, Granite Staters know the truth.  Ayotte opposed bipartisan commonsense background check legislation that would have helped keep guns out of the hands of criminals and the mentally ill who could pose a danger to themselves and others." - NHDP Communications Director Harrell Kirstein





Sen. Ayotte, Sen. Rubio Opposed The Manchin-Toomey Amendment To Expand Background Checks. [Senate Vote 97, 4/17/13]


Manchin-Toomey Was "Bipartisan Legislation To Expand Background Checks To Gun Shows And The Internet."  "Bipartisan legislation to expand background checks to gun shows and the Internet. This is the Manchin-Toomey proposal that's getting so much press lately. This amendment would essentially become the new gun bill if it passed. It would require all buyers of firearms at gun shows and over the Internet to complete federal background checks first. It would also strengthen laws against gun trafficking and straw purchases and provide funding for school safety."  [Washington Post, 4/17/13]


Manchin-Toomey: "Extends The Existing Background Check System To Gun Shows And Online Sales."  "The Public Safety and Second Amendment Rights Protection Act would require states and the federal government to send all necessary records on criminals and the violently mentally ill to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). The bill extends the existing background check system to gun shows and online sales."  [Pat Toomey Press Release, 4/10/13]




Sen. Ayotte Voted For The Grassley-Cruz Amendment. [Senate Vote 98, 4/17/13]


National Review:  "There Is No Expansion Of Background Checks In The Grassley And Cruz Legislation."  "There is no expansion of background checks in the Grassley and Cruz legislation. Instead, there is funding devoted to increasing gun prosecutions: $50 million over five years for prosecution of felons and fugitives who try to buy guns (in 2009, according to the NRA, 77,000 people failed the NICS background check, yet fewer than 100 were prosecuted). An additional $45 million will be distributed over three years to hire assistant U.S. attorneys and Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearm agents in especially violent areas."  [National Review, 4/17/13]


New York Daily News: "Beefed Up Background Checks" Were Not Part Of Grassley Cruz.  "The amendment Ayotte referenced, known as the Grassley-Cruz amendment, for the senators who co-wrote it, contained several Republican proposals, but beefed-up background checks were not among them."  [New York Daily News, 5/7/13]


Politico: Grassley-Cruz "Ignored Gun Shows And Internet Sales Entirely."  "Instead, the Granite Stater backed an alternative measure written by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) that ignored gun shows and internet sales entirely, instead focusing on encouraging states to submit mental health information to the background check database."  [Politico, 5/7/13]


Washington Post:  Grassley-Gruz "Would Loosen Gun Restrictions By Making It Easier To Purchase And Carry Guns Across State Lines." "The main Republican alternative to gun control, proposed by Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Ted Cruz (R-Ariz.) failed with 52 senators in favor and 48 opposed. It would increase funding for criminal prosecution, school safety, and mental health resources and create a task force to go after felons who fail background checks. It would also criminalize trafficking and straw purchasing and increase the penalties for them. At the same time, the amendment would loosen gun restrictions by making it easier to purchase and carry guns across state lines."  [Washington Post, 4/17/13]


Grassley Cruz Would Make It Easier For People Who Had Been Involuntarily Committed To Buy Guns.  "The NRA-approved substitute Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Ted Cruz (R-TX) offered today would actually make it easier for some mentally ill people to obtain guns. The bill states that it strengthens the federal background check system to ensure that mentally ill people don't purchase guns. But it defines that term narrowly and would allow patients who had been involuntarily committed and treated for mental illness to pass a federal background check and buy weapons.  For instance, current law prohibits people who are ordered by a court into involuntary treatment from buying weapons - even though individuals can petition to have their rights restored in 22 states. Under the bill, individuals who are released could seek to have their name removed from the federal database immediately and would not have to go through a formal adjudication process to prove worthiness to buy a gun. People who were determined to be a danger to themselves or others would only be prohibited from gun ownership if they are proven to be imminently dangerous."  [Think Progress, 4/17/13]




NEC POLL: "Voters Overwhelmingly Approved" Of Proposal For Universal Background Checks 88% To 10%. From the Director of the New England College Poll, Dr. Ben Tafoya "New Hampshire voters show surprisingly strong support for these gun control move.  There are deep and lasting effects on the  public from the heightened level of sensitivity toward these issues in light of the tragic  shootings in Newtown, CT. We have seen in this NEC poll and other numbers from other  organizations strong national support for increased efforts to restrict access to assault  weapons and guns in general by those who do not pass background checks. The numbers of voters in support of universal background checks are so high as to make demographic examination worthless. It is difficult to imagine the voting public has a great consensus on anything than they show on this issue." [NEC.ed, 1/24/2013]


PPP: "Gun Show Background Checks Are Pretty Universally Popular In New Hampshire" And "Ayotte Is Facing Some Serious Backlash From Voters." From Public Policy Polling, "Ayotte now has a negative approval rating with 44% of voters giving her good marks and 46% disapproving. That's down a net 15 points from the last time we polled on her, in October, when she had a 48% approval with 35% disapproving. 75% of New Hampshire voters- including 95% of Democrats, 74% of independents, and 56% of Republicans- say they support background checks. And 50% of voters in the state say Ayotte's 'no' vote will make them less likely to support her in a future election, compared to just 23% who consider it to be a positive." [PPP Poll,4/24/2013]


UNH Poll: 94% Favor Background Checks To See if Buyer Has Been Convicted Of A Felony, 95% For Buyers At Gun Shows.  From the University of New Hampshire Survey Center, "In the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, lawmakers in Washington are debating several measures aimed at curtailing gun violence. New Hampshire residents show very strong support for background checks for the purposes of keeping  guns out of the hands of felons, people with mental illness, and for background checks for gun purchases at gun shows." [UNH Poll, 2/8/2013]


Headline: "NRA Misrepresents Police Survey, Legislation." wrote, "On the day the Senate voted down a series of gun control bills, the National Rifle Association made false and misleading claims in opposing a measure to expand background checks. Online ads from the NRA wrongly claimed that "80% of police say background checks will have no effect" on violent crime. The survey cited in the ads by the NRA says nothing of the sort." [, 4/18/2013]


NHDP - Fact Check: Ayotte Op-ed is Full of Holes

Kelly claims to support background checks after voting against them


Concord  - After weeks of harsh criticism from across the state, Kelly Ayotte's attempts to explain away her vote against expanding background checks are becoming more and more desperate.  Her latest op-ed plays fast and loose with the truth about the bi-partisan Manchin-Toomey compromise legislation she voted against.


Ayotte claims she is in favor of improving the national instant criminal background check system, also known as NICS.  But Ayotte voted against strengthening NCIS.  The Manchin-Toomey compromise would have improved the "existing instant check system by encouraging states to put all their available records into" NCIS.   []


Further, Ayotte's votes don't back up the claim that she is focused on "fixing the existing system, which criminals are flouting."  The compromise legislation Ayotte voted against would have expanded background checks to "commercial sales, including sales at gun shows and internet sales," making it harder for criminals to flout the system by purchasing a gun without going through a background check. []


"The fact of the matter is that Ayotte voted against commonsense gun violence prevention legislation supported by 90% of her constituents and no NRA talking point exists to justify why," said New Hampshire Democratic Party Communications Director Harrell Kirstein.


Ayotte closed her op-ed by committing to "continue to try to work across the aisle to prevent violence, enforce and improve our broken background check system" - unfortunately that too is exactly what she voted against in the U.S. Senate.  The compromise bill was co-sponsored by a member of each party, improved the background check system, and expanded it.  []


"It is insulting that Senator Ayotte thinks the people of New Hampshire would actually believe she voted against legislation to improve and expand background checks as a way to improve them," added Kirstein.


AUFC - Senator Ayotte: ‘I Voted to Improve Background Checks’ No she didn'


If You Can’t Beat ‘Em, Spin ‘Em  :  After Opposing Manchin-Toomey and Sinking in Polls, Senator Ayotte now says ‘I Voted to Improve Background Checks’

Actually, Ayotte voted to worsen background check system, make it easier for the dangerously mentally ill to get a gun

Pop Quiz: You’re a party-line-toeing politician on the ropes for defying the wishes of 89% of the people you were elected to represent.  You just voted to keep the gun show loophole wide open for criminals and the dangerously mentally ill to exploit and the gun makers to profit from.  You’re now down 15 points in the polls and finding yourself confronted at town halls by incensed citizens whose families were shattered by gun violence.  What do you do now?  What – do – you – do?

If you’re Senator Kelly Ayotte, the answer is simple: just start disingenuously telling people you voted to improve background checks and hope they buy it.  See Ayotte’s May 6 op-ed: ‘I Voted to Improve Background Checks.’

There’s just one problem: not only did she NOT vote to ‘improve’ the background check system, she actually voted to make it easier for the dangerously mentally ill to get a gun and to make it harder to stop gun traffickers.  SEE MAIG FACT SHEET below on the Grassley-Cruz bill Ayotte refers to when she claims she “voted recently to improve the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS).”

Ayotte goes on in her op-ed to trash Manchin-Toomey, the bipartisan bill that would actually be effective at keeping more guns out of dangerous hands: “We shouldn’t be expanding a flawed system.”   Ayotte neglects to mention that -- under the current system she deems flawed -- “since 1998 the F.B.I. has rejected more than a million would-be sales, and when state-level rejections are factored in the number of denials is closer to two million — usually because the would-be buyers are convicted felons, or fugitives from justice, or mentally ill, among other reasons,” according to the New York Times.  

That’s nearly 2 million guns that were kept out of the wrong hands under the current system.  Lives were been saved under Ayotte’s ‘flawed system’.  In fact: In states that require a background check for private handgun sales, 38 percent fewer women are shot to death by their intimate partners; in states that require background checks for all handgun sales, there are 17% fewer firearm aggravated assaults.

Given the facts, it’s obvious that closing the gun show/internet loophole and subjecting more of the millions of guns sold anonymously each year to background checks would keep more guns out of the hands of criminals and save more lives.   That’s common sense and logical.  But Senator Ayotte glosses over the clear reduction in gun violence that would result from expanded background checks and says we should instead ask the law enforcement community to spend an enormous resources and time they will never have chasing after everyone that was stopped from getting a gun by the background check.  It’s a classic example of not seeing the forest for the trees.


The Grassley-Cruz Bill Undermines Public Safety

 Bottom Line: The Grassley-Cruz Bill does nothing to close the gaping loophole that allows  criminals to buy guns without background checks. Meanwhile, the bill makes it easier for the seriously mentally ill to get guns and harder for the federal government to stop gun trafficking.  A vote for Grassley-Cruz is not an acceptable substitute for a vote for Manchin-Toomey.

 Grassley-Cruz would leave the private sale loophole wide open, while the Manchin-Toomey Amendment would narrow this deadly gap and keep guns out of the hands of criminals and the seriously mentally ill.

Ø      Each year, 6.6 million guns are sold without a background check. The Manchin-Toomey Amendment extends the existing background check system to cover all sales in commercial settings, including at gun shows, online and in classified ads.

Ø      Background checks impose little burden on lawful private sellers and they save lives. States that have gone beyond federal law and closed the private sale loophole have had dramatic results: In states that require background checks for all handgun sales, there are 38 percent fewer women shot to death by intimate partners and there is 48 percent less gun trafficking.

Ø      Grassley-Cruz would do nothing to address this problem.

 Grassley-Cruz would actually make it legal for seriously mentally ill people to buy guns and would weaken the gun background check database.

Ø      Make it legal for the seriously mentally ill to buy guns: Grassley-Cruz would undermine public safety by effectively eliminating longstanding prohibitions on gun possession by the seriously mentally ill, including those who have been involuntarily committed to psychiatric hospitals and those who have been found to lack the mental capacity to manage their affairs.

Ø      Weaken the gun background check system (NICS): By eliminating certain categories gun prohibitors and significantly narrowing others, this bill would invalidate millions of mental health records currently in the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS).

 Grassley-Cruz would make it harder for the federal government to stop gun traffickers. Grassley-Cruz strips the federal government’s authority to require dealers in border states to report multiple sales of assault rifles, halting a successful ongoing program that curbs gun trafficking along the border. Grassley-Cruz also fails to give law enforcement a useful tool to go after straw purchasers and gun traffickers.

Ø      Rather than creating an enforceable straw purchasing crime, Grassley-Cruz simply reiterates existing law and places an exacting burden of proof of law enforcement officers trying to punish and deter straw purchasers.

Ø      And rather than giving law enforcement the critical tools it needs to break up trafficking rings and stem the tide of illegal guns, Grassley-Cruz requires proof that the trafficker knew that the recipient was prohibited or would use the gun to commit a violent crime. Requiring knowledge makes this provision nearly indistinguishable from current law which already penalizes the knowing transfer of a gun to a recipient that is prohibited or would use the gun to commit a violent crime.

Ø      By contrast, the Stop Illegal Trafficking in Firearms Act of 2013 would create new and enforceable federal crimes for both straw purchasing and illegal gun trafficking.