The National Rifle Association's latest TV ad has irked two congressmen, who claim it unfairly depicts Hispanics and blacks.
The cable spot first aired Oct. 11 on CNN and runs in markets like Washington and New York. The spot urges Congress to crack down on violent criminals, rather than enact stronger gun-control laws; it shows black-and-white photos of Hispanics and blacks.
Rep. Robert Menendez, D-New Jersey, called the ad "repulsive" and appealing to bias. "They purposely chose to have a majority of African Americans and Hispanics in their ad."
Rep. Charles Gonzalez, D-Texas, labeled it "Willie Horton-school of shock advertising," citing the controversial ad that aired when former President George Bush ran for office.
"Rather than trying to back up their false claims with factual data, the NRA has chosen to depict ethnic and racial minorities as criminals let loose on the streets," Gonzalez stated.
NRA spokesman Bill Powers dismissed criticism as detractions. "Folks are trying to grasp at straws," he said. "They would better serve their constituents by knocking on the White House door and asking why federal prosecutions have decreased."
The ad was by Wilson Grand Communications, Alexandria, Va., which got shots of criminals and was directed to pick those with diverse ethnicities.
"These are sensitivities we all need to be aware of," Powers said. "We went to lengths to ensure this criticism was unfounded."