Brady campaign endorses Lautenberg

Frank Lautenberg today received the endorsement of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.

The organization, founded by former Ronald Reagan press secretary Jim Brady, who was paralyzed after being shot during the assassination attempt against Reagan in 1981, pushes for stricter gun control measures.

On a conference call with reporters, Sarah Brady, who co-founded the organization with her husband, characterized Lautenberg as a stalwart champion of gun control.

“I’ve worked with him for years. What a dynamo and what a leader he has been for us. It’s one thing to just vote with us and to agree with us, but Senator Lautenberg has been in the forefront,” she said.

Brady noted that Lautenberg was a co-sponsor of the Brady Bill, which was enacted in late 1993 and instituted criminal background checks for purchasing firearms. He went on to become the primary sponsor of the Domestic Violence Offender Gun Ban in 1996, which restricted gun ownership by those convicted of misdemeanor domestic abuse offenses and those under permanent restraining orders.

Lautenberg has also introduced legislation to close the “gun show loophole” in the original Brady Bill, which allows some private vendors to sell firearms without conducting a criminal background check.

Brady Campaign President Paul Helmke, a former Republican mayor of Fort Wayne, Ind., said that he’s happy with the record of Lautenberg’s opponent, Rob Andrews, but that Lautenberg had been a more vocal advocate of gun control. And while his organization typically stays out of primaries, Helmke said, they made an exception for Lautenberg.

“Congressman Andrews has done an excellent job on this issue in Congress and we strongly appreciate his support. In this case we’ve got a great Senator and Congressman, and we’d be happy if they both stayed where they are and continued doing that,” said Helmke. “Since it’s Frank Lautenberg, there are no qualms at all. We stand with Senator Lautenberg regardless of who his opponents are.”