Rand Paul Gun Control Ads: The Republican Targets His Own Party

Tea Party darling and potential 2016 presidential candidate, Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.), has been raising money and supporting a conservative gun rights association that attacks fellow Republicans, such as House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.). This organization, called the National Association for Gun Rights (NAGR), feels that the National Rifle Association is not fighting hard enough for gun rights and has accused Cantor and Rep. Scott Rigell (R-Va.) of helping President Barack Obama pass legislation regarding stricter gun control. It even went so far as to spend $50,000 in TV and radio adds to spread this message to Virginia citizens.

The Kentucky Republican sends out email pitches for the NAGR, and while the emails do not address Cantor or Rigell directly, they show that Rand Paul is prepared to fight for change within the Republican Party. His chief of staff, Doug Stafford, commented to Politico claiming, “Rand signs normal, run-of-the-mill activist emails and letters for numerous groups and this is one of them … That’s all he’s ever done for them, he’s not affiliated with the group in any way, he doesn’t control how they decide their activism should take place in terms of who the people are that need to be shored up on an issue.”

The ad directly attacking Cantor have a narrator stating, “He doesn’t sound like a Virginian or a Republican anymore; Eric Cantor sounds like someone else,” alluding to President Obama. 

In February, Cantor suggested on CNN that there should be a more efficient database for background checks for gun ownership that could be incorporated into federal law after seeing its success it has had in Virginia following the Virginia Tech shooting.

Paul has been signing emails and letters for NAGR support for about two years, according to Stafford, that are against congressional gun control bills and the United Nations small arms treaty. He has made a name for himself on Capitol Hill, especially when he filibustered against the drone policy the Obama administration proposed last month. He also recently won the Conservative Political Action Conference's presidential straw poll.

However, Paul maintains his stance as a strong pro-gun-rights Republican. He has already made a premeditated guarantee that he will filibuster the Democratic gun control legislation that calls for more broad background checks and less interstate gun trafficking.

It is interesting that Paul is taking such a stance on gun control in today’s politics not only due to recent events in Sandy Hook and Colorado, but also because of the possibility of a presidential bid in 2016. By attacking members of the Republican Party, though, Paul is showing that the political group needs to fully grasp its stance on its current views and where it wants the United States to go in the future before moving forward.

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Melissa Sullivan

I am a student at Georgetown University, whose free time is spent interning on Capitol Hill and watching college basketball. I am a Government and Spanish double major with a Theology minor, and I just spent 5 months abroad in Buenos Aires, Argentina. I'm an avid sports fan (Giants, Yankees, and Knicks), and when I'm home in Connecticut I love to hang out with my dogs.

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