Like it or not, the 2024 campaign season is already underway, and several Democrats facing tough re-election fights are being called out by the Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee over their recent vote to keep in place the ATF’s rule re-defining brace-equipped pistols as short-barreled rifles; a vote that not only contradicts a federal court ruling that has blocked the rule from being enforced against members of the 2A groups that have sued over its existence, but will have devastating consequences on those disabled Americans who depend on the braces to help them shoot accurately and safely.
While the House of Representatives voted to repeal the ATF rule just a few weeks ago, when senators cast their own votes Democrats stood unified in support of the rule. Now the Daily Caller reports that Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Montana’s Jon Tester, and Sherrod Brown of Ohio are being named and shamed by the NRSC in a new ad that hits them for voting against the interests of disabled veterans.
The ad that’s aimed at Tester starts with a narrator intoning that “Washington changes people; just look at Jon Tester” before asserting that Tester promised to stand up for veterans. Cut to a soundbite of Tester claiming that he gets up “every day trying to make sure we do right by our veterans in this country”, and the narrator’s response that “instead, he sold them out.” The ad continues:
Voting with extreme liberals to deny wounded veterans their Second Amendment rights, limiting constitutional freedoms, pushing more government control, breaking his promise to Montana veterans. Tell Jon Tester, stand up for our Second Amendment rights.
I can’t help but notice that there’s no actual mention of the ATF or its pistol brace rule in the narration of the ad. Instead, a small bit of text appears on screen for about four seconds referencing “Senate Roll Call Vote #171 06/22/23”. The average viewer, on the other hand, isn’t going to have any idea what exactly Jon Tester did to divest veterans of their right to keep and bear arms.
Maybe I’m biased because I’ve covered this issue, or maybe I’m just already sick of attack ads as Virginia enters the height of our own off-year elections this November, but I honestly don’t think this particular ad is going to move the needle much in Montana. It’s a little too generic for my taste, especially when it’s easy enough to explain in 30 seconds or less that Tester voted to keep an ATF rule in place that forces disabled veterans and millions of other Americans to register at least some of their guns with the federal government or risk a federal felony charge; a rule that upended years of previous guidance by the ATF, has already faced significant headway in the courts, and has been roundly praised by virtually every anti-gun group in existence.
I realize it’s easy to get into the weeds when discussing the intricacies of ATF rules and regulations, but considering the vast majority of Americans have no clue whatsoever that this ATF rule even exists, providing a little more detail about the vote and the rule itself would be useful. As it is, it just feels like a standard, generic attack ad, and those are all too easy to tune out these days.
It’s a long way between now and Election Day, and this hopefully won’t be the last ad the NRSC runs targeting red-state Democrats for their anti-gun votes. I’m glad to see the campaign committee is making the pro-gun control records of Manchin, Tester, and Brown an issue heading into 2024. I just hope they keep tweaking their messaging for maximum impact.