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Trump Encouraged Republicans to Stand Up to the Gun Lobby. Does Heller Still Fear Their “Retribution”?

President Trump told a room full of governors yesterday not to be “afraid” of gun lobby groups like the NRA. One politician in Nevada with a history of caving to the gun lobby is Republican Sen. Dean Heller. In 2013, it was Heller’s fear of “retribution” from the gun lobby that drove him to vote against the bipartisan Manchin-Toomey bill to expand background checks and close the gun show loophole.

Nevada State Democratic Party spokesperson Sarah Abel released the following statement:

“Even President Trump is telling Republicans to grow a backbone against the gun lobby. Sen. Heller has a lengthy history of voting against common-sense gun safety measures, and he’s been virtually silent on what he would do to reduce gun violence. If he stays in the Senate, Heller’s continued inaction shows clearly that he will keep doing the bidding of the gun lobby, even if it means risking the safety of his constituents.”

BACKGROUND

Heller Took $112,315 From The Gun Lobby. According to OpenSecrets, Heller received $112,315 from the gun lobby over the course of his career. [OpenSecrets, Accessed 2/26/18]

Aides Said Heller Did Not Co-Sponsor Background Check Bill In 2013 Because He Feared “Retribution” From The Group Gun Owners Of America.  “Gun Owners of America’s central mission now is to prevent the passage of several bills about to hit the Senate floor. It is also lobbying for a House bill that would eliminate gun-free school zones. Democratic aides said that Republicans approached to co-sponsor a background check bill cited Mr. Pratt’s group as their biggest impediment, fearing retribution. Senator Dean Heller of Nevada worried about the group, aides say; Mr. Pratt said his group was concerned about Mr. Heller. ‘He’s been kind of wandering around,’ Mr. Pratt said. Mr. Heller said that the group ‘is a group that I respect,’ adding that he believed Congress ‘should expand background checks,’ but had declined to support a bill with Mr. Schumer. His spokesman did not respond to more requests about Mr. Heller’s relationship with the group.” [New York Times, 4/4/13]

Former KSNV Host Hugh Jackson: “Heller Time And Time Again Said Congress Should Expand Background Checks. Then He Voted No, Even Though He Could Offer No Rational Or Even Coherent Explanation For His Vote.” “Heller time and again said Congress should expand background checks. Then he voted not to, even though he could offer no rational or even coherent explanation for his vote, relying instead on an intellectually bankrupt assertion that existed only in the imagination of gun lobbyists who, lacking any credible justification for their position, just made something up. Heller was afraid of the gun lobby, plain and simple, so he put what he thought was in his best political interest ahead of what he himself said was in the country’s best interest.” [Las Vegas City Life, Hugh Jackson, Op-Ed, 5/2/13]