House races

Giffords gun group pulls attack ad

Former Rep. Gabby Giffords’s (D-Ariz.) gun control group is pulling down a controversial ad running in her old House district after the candidate they attacked said she supported a proposal they have been championing.

Americans for Responsible Solutions has been on the air with a hard-hitting attack accusing former Air Force pilot Martha McSally (R) of opposing changes to close the “stalker gap” in the law that bars people convicted of felony stalking charges from buying guns but not those convicted of misdemeanors.

McSally’s campaign announced on Tuesday that she actually supported the change, and claimed she’s always held that position. She’s in a tough rematch against Rep. Ron Barber (D), Giffords’s former district director. 

The ad features a woman whose daughter was killed by a stalker saying McSally “doesn’t understand” the importance of closing the loophole and claiming McSally “opposes making it harder for stalkers to get a gun.”

On Tuesday, days after the ad began running, McSally’s campaign put out a statement saying that the group had never asked her what her position was on that issue and that she “supports adding misdemeanor stalking to the list of criminal offenses that would keep dangerous individuals from obtaining guns in other states where stalking can also be a misdemeanor.”

In response, ARS announced that it would pull down the attack ad.

ARS senior advisor Pia Carusone said the group decided to pull the ad because McSally had changed her position on the issue.

“We received a statement this morning that her position has changed, that she has now come out in support of changing the stalker gap, which is great news from our perspective. ARS will now be taking down the ad as soon as possible,” she said on a conference call with reporters.

McSally’s campaign argues that she’s always held this position, though she previously hadn’t publicly weighed in on the “stalker gap” and has said she opposes tightening gun control laws.

“Ron Barber’s political allies never asked Martha’s stance on the “stalking gap” before running their disgraceful and false ad, and Martha’s position has never changed on the issue,” said McSally spokesman Patrick Ptak.

“Martha has been a victim of stalking and knows what it’s like first-hand to suffer through that fear. Understandably, her experiences guide her thoughts, and she has always held that convicted stalkers should be prohibited from obtaining firearms in all cases. Instead of looking to distort the truth to score cheap political points, Ron Barber’s political allies should have done their homework first.”

The ad had drawn criticism — The Arizona Republican derided it as a “nasty piece of work” in a recent editorial, and McSally, who herself has been a victim of stalking, has called for days for it to be taken down.

But Carusone said the group was planning on continuing to run the ad until McSally announced she’d changed her mind on the position.

“We are pulling an ad down seven days after it started running,” said Carusone. “Until this morning she was still opposed to closing the stalker gap so we were still going to run that ad.”

The organization says it still plans to continue backing Barber, who supports stricter gun control measures that the group favors. 

“This district is still very much in our list of races we’re involved in,” she said.


Tags Gabrielle Giffords Martha McSally Ron Barber Ron Barber
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