Top Gun-Control Group Ducks Guns in Election Ad

Brady PAC focuses on health care, not gun control, to boost Dems

Second Amendment supporters protest at Virginia capitol in January 2020 / Getty Images
October 26, 2020

A top gun-control group has blanketed Virginia airwaves with a new ad, but its missive is missing one key word: guns.

Brady PAC, which advocates for increased gun control, released an ad attacking Virginia Republican congressional candidate Nick Freitas on health care policy. The ad, for which Brady and the House Majority PAC paid, does not mention gun issues at all.

Brady's turn away from gun-control messaging comes after Everytown, the largest gun-control group in the country, also abandoned the issue in election ads.

The change provides further evidence that Democrats and liberal interest groups do not view gun control as a winning issue in 2020—a year that has seen record gun sales and an influx of new gun owners.

George Mason University law professor Joyce Malcolm told the Washington Free Beacon that gun-control groups have lost faith in their core message and believe focusing on other issues is the best way to get their allies elected.

"The gun-control issue is a loser at this point," she said. "So, the gun-control groups are pushing the health care issue in hopes of helping the election of Joe Biden."

Biden's pledge to take away "assault weapons" and support for a variety of strict new gun-control proposals are key reasons the groups support him, Malcolm said.

"If Biden wins, the gun-control folks expect to be in the driver's seat," Malcolm said.

Gun-rights proponents have taken Brady's ad as a sign of capitulation.

"That is the Brady Campaign, whose sole existence is to take away our gun rights," Philip Van Cleave, president of the Virginia Citizens Defense League, said in an email to supporters. "Not a word about guns in that ad. Not a word. That silence on gun-control isn't an accident, folks."

Van Cleave pointed out that gun-rights groups, such as the National Rifle Association and Gun Owners of America, have stuck to running gun-focused ads. He argued the groups are "scared to death of gun-owners voting" in Virginia, especially in light of the pro-Second-Amendment "sanctuary" movement and January's massive rally against the state's new gun-control laws.

"They know that they woke a powerful, sleeping giant and they desperately want that giant to go back to sleep, as they seek to strip us of our guns through backdoor political ads," Van Cleave said.

The Brady PAC did not respond to a request for comment. The ad is currently running in the Richmond and Fredericksburg markets.