By Cameron Joseph - 05/24/13 03:29 PM EDT
A pro-gun control group backed by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg (I) is launching an ad slamming Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) for voting against bipartisan background check legislation, a move that could complicate his path to reelection.
"When my dear, innocent friend was shot to death, I didn't blame guns. I blamed a system that makes it so terribly easy for criminals or the dangerous mentally ill to buy guns," says former Democratic staffer Angela Bradford-Barnes in the ad.
"That's why I was so disappointed when Mark Pryor voted against comprehensive background checks. On that vote, he let us down. Tell Mark Pryor to take another look at background checks because we're tired of being disappointed."
Pryor is one of the most vulnerable senators up for reelection in 2014, and gun rights are a tricky issue for him in a state with a very high level of gun ownership. He's voted in the past for a comprehensive assault weapons ban, but this year voted against the plan put forth by Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) on guns.
In a statement responding to the ad, Pryor described Gwatney as a friend said Bloomberg's ad "politicizes" his death. Gwatney was shot in the Democratic party headquarters in Little Rock, Ark. in August, 2008.
"He was my friend and he was killed by someone with severe mental health issues. The Mayor’s bill would have done nothing to prevent his death because it fails to adequately address the real issue and common thread in all of these shootings — mental health," Pryor said.
"Mayor Bloomberg’s attack ad politicizes the death of my friend by misleading people into thinking that his bill would have prevented Bill Gwatney’s tragic death. The fact is it wouldn’t have, which makes Mayor Bloomberg’s ad even more disgusting."