Both ways? That doesn’t work well

Friday, May 24, 2013

To the Editor

You can’t have it both ways.

In his letter of May 17, Eric Pauer thanks Sen. Kelly Ayotte for protecting Second Amendment rights, and repeats the gun lobby sponsored talking point that she accomplished that by voting for a bill that included background checks as part of the solution to gun violence. Yet, she voted against the Manchin-Toomey bill, which contained stronger provisions for background checks, rather than weakening them.

During her recent town hall meetings, Sen. Ayotte pivoted from one answer to another on her vote, saying that background checks were an unfair burden, then saying the Manchin-Toomey bill would have led to a gun registry and confiscation, then switching again to the need to focus on mental health, on which again the Manchin-Toommey bill was the stronger bill, by far.

So, on the one hand, Sen. Ayotte voted against a bill that had the only real, albeit slim, chance to pass, because stronger background checks would’ve been a burden, or led to confiscation, or another reason to be named later. But on the other hand, Sen. Ayotte is the beneficiary of the NRA and Marco Rubio’s PAC spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on ads saying she did vote for background checks, even though the bill she voted for was weaker and had no chance of passing, essentially a shill created as cover for senators like Ayotte.

It seems to me Mr. Pauer has a problem. Either he is thanking Sen. Ayotte for doing something she didn’t do, because according to her own words, background checks would lead to confiscation, and she voted for background checks. Or, she really didn’t vote for background checks, in which case Mr. Pauer is OK, but now the senator has a problem, because she is insisting she did vote for background checks, and her out-of-state friends are spending a lot of money to convince New Hampshire citizens of that one.

I would suggest a simple remedy for Mr. Pauer and Sen. Ayotte. Admit that background checks and other common-sense gun violence prevention measures have no real impact on Second Amendment rights, and join in the bipartisan effort to prevent future tragedies like the one in Newtown, Conn. Or, give up the illusion that you support gun safety and stick with the radical elements that put gun sales above public safety, won’t compromise and wish to shut down the debate with lies, fear and delays.

I know your efforts to play both sides are exhausting for me to keep score of, they must be doubly so for you. I find that, in the end, having the courage of your convictions is far less exhausting, and easier to keep straight.



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