“Every woman has the right to defend herself with a gun, if she chooses,” says Kristi McMains, speaking directly to the camera in a recent campaign ad. “Hillary Clinton disagrees with that. Don’t let politicians take away your right to own a gun.”
The 26-year-old Indiana woman is the star of a spot paid for by the nation’s largest gun lobby, the National Rifle Association. She describes how she fended off an attacker with the aid of a pistol.
The NRA — through both its lobbying arm and political action committee — has now aired more than 10,800 TV ads since late June attacking Clinton or praising Republican Donald Trump, whom the group endorsed in May.
That amounts to about 16 percent of all TV ads aired during the general election by Trump’s campaign and his allies, according to data provided to the Center for Public Integrity by ad tracking firm Kantar Media/CMAG. Trump’s own campaign has aired about 43,100 TV ads since the primaries ended in June.
In another ad the gun group has been regularly airing in battleground states, an actress awakes, runs across her bedroom and then calls the police while opening a gun safe as a thief breaks into her home. A narrator then implores: “Don’t let Hillary leave you protected with nothing but a phone.”
The bulk of the NRA’s ads have targeted voters in North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Ohio.
In October alone, about one of every 20 TV ads in Pennsylvania has been sponsored by the NRA, according to a Center for Public Integrity analysis of Kantar Media/CMAG data. Meanwhile, the NRA is behind about one of every nine ads that have aired so far this month in North Carolina. And in Ohio, the organization is responsible for about one of every eight TV ads that have aired so far in October.