New York Gov. David Paterson today named Democratic Congresswoman Kirsten Gillibrand to fill the Senate seat left vacant by Hillary Clinton. While Gillibrand's support of abortion rights and same-sex marriage make her far from a typical conservative, her extensive history as a supporter of gun rights has drawn sharp criticism from gun control activists and organizations.
U.S. Representative Carolyn McCarthy, whose husband was killed in a tragic shooting, has already vowed to challenge Gillibrand for the Senate seat next year. In an interview with the Chicago Tribune McCarthy said, "Believe me, this is a personal issue for me. I don't think anyone with a 100 percent rating from the NRA should be the next senator from New York."
Brady Campaign President Paul Helmke echoed those sentiments in a sharply worded press release:
“We have been disappointed by Representative Kirsten Gillibrand’s record on preventing gun violence during her one term in Congress. For example, she supported legislation that would have weakened efforts to fight illegal gun trafficking. We are hopeful, however, that as a United States Senator representing the entire state of New York she will follow the example of Senator Charles Schumer and former Senator Clinton and work with us to make it harder for dangerous people to get dangerous weapons in this country.”
Noted for her commitment to centrist politics, Gillibrand went out of her way to praise McCarthy for her dedication to public safety in a press conference today, but also defended her stance on gun rights.
“My mom is probably the best shot in my family," she said. "My brother hunts, my dad hunts. In upstate New York, we typically shoot the Thanksgiving turkey. So that’s what we do.
"And so I’ve always wanted to protect the hunters’ rights because they are such an important part of our culture."
Gov. Paterson chose Gillibrand after a controversial and unusually public selection process that included the withdrawal of Caroline Kennedy.
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