An ad from Pat Ryan, an Iraq War veteran and one of the Democratic candidates running in a Republican district in upstate New York, cuts from footage of US soldiers in combat to shots of children dressing in combat armor to attend class.

“If our children are going up against this,” says Ryan, holding a long-arm rifle, “they should have the same protection we give our soldiers. Or we could just get rid of assault rifles. What makes more sense to you?”

The ad has been viewed over half a million times on Twitter. NY-19 is a district that voted for Trump by seven points and is currently represented by Republican Rep. John Faso. But Ryan’s campaign says their internal polling shows gun control is the number one issue of mind to voters there.

They’ve made gun control the central theme of his campaign. On June 16, he’s marching 30 miles with high school students from the home of Franklin Roosevelt to Faso’s office to call for an assault weapons ban. Ryan’s campaign says his two tours in Iraq help him reach the type of voters who would typically not listen to a Democrat when it comes to guns.

“The door opens up a little bit wider. They’re willing to listen,” said campaign manager Tim Wagner. “The same old same old messengers are not moving voters. People want something new.”

Ryan is just one of the several Democratic midterm candidates embracing gun control in conservative-leaning districts where the party formerly shied away from the issue. They say that their record gives them a credibility that lets them reach voters who would otherwise dismiss a Democrat.

The pitches are often personal, as they draw on their experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan. In calling for an assault rifle ban, they can (and do) make the argument: I used these extremely lethal weapons in combat, no one knows better than me how dangerous they are and that they have no place on our streets.

Read the full article on BuzzFeed here.

Categories: Press Coverage