POLITICS
07/24/2017 04:00 pm ET Updated Jul 26, 2017

GOP Rep. Mo Brooks Uses Audio From Baseball Practice Shooting In Campaign Ad

One staffer for House Majority Whip Steve Scalise said the ad made his "stomach turn."

Last month’s shooting at a practice for the annual Congressional Baseball Game has grimly inspired Republican Rep. Mo Brooks’ latest campaign advertisement in the race for the Senate seat Attorney General Jeff Sessions gave up.

As part of Brooks’ bid for votes in Alabama’s Aug. 15 primary, his team released a video on Monday that uses audio from the attack in Alexandria, Virginia. The ad is entitled “Second Amendment” and stresses, unsurprisingly, Brooks’ pro-gun rights stance.

The ad opens with text that reads “A Bernie Sanders supporter fires on Republican Congressmen” ― and is accompanied by audio of the actual gunshots that rang out on June 14. A voice can be heard shouting, “Stay down!”

The shooting injured House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.), Capitol Police Special Agent Crystal Griner, congressional aide Zach Barth and Tyson Foods lobbyist Matt Mika. Scalise was the most seriously wounded; he has undergone multiple surgeries and remains hospitalized in Washington. The shooter, James Hodgkinson of Illinois, died from wounds he suffered when he was shot by police at the baseball field. 

Another block of text in the ad tells viewers how Brooks gave up “his belt as a tourniquet to help the wounded” and then poses the question “What’s the liberal media immediately ask?” Brooks is then shown answering a question at the scene about whether the shooting he’d just witnessed had affected his views on “the gun situation in America.”

“The Second Amendment, right to bear arms, is to help ensure we always have a republic. So, no, I’m not changing my position on any of the rights we enjoy as Americans,” Brooks says, as the ad’s background music swells.

A spokesman for Scalise and Scalise’s chief of staff both suggested they found the ad to be in poor taste.

“I guess some people have their own ideas about what’s appropriate,” Scalise spokesman Chris Bond said, according to NBC News’ Alex Moe.

Brett Horton, Scalise’s chief of staff, responded to a Politico reporter’s tweet about the ad by saying the spot made his “stomach turn.” 

Taste aside, Brooks is capitalizing on the feelings of many Republicans in Congress immediately after the shooting. According to The New York Times, GOP lawmakers called for looser restrictions on gun access so targets of attacks like the Alexandria shooting can fight back. 

Brooks is sponsoring a bill that would allow lawmakers to carry a concealed gun almost anywhere, potentially even inside the U.S. Capitol. Other Republicans have put forth similar proposals.

Brooks told NBC News’ Frank Thorpe that he “believe[s] this ad shows my conviction to defend the Second Amendment right to bear arms,” and that it’s “one thing to talk about defense of the Second Amendment, [but] it’s another thing to have lived through an assassination attempt and to reaffirm your commitment to the Second Amendment right to bear arms.” He also told Thorpe that “the truth is always appropriate.

In addition to his stance on guns, Brooks touts himself as “the only candidate who is willing to stand up to [Senate Majority Leader] Mitch McConnell and establishment Republicans” to ensure full funding for the border wall sought by President Donald Trump.

Brooks is one of several Republicans seeking the party’s Senate nomination. Other contenders include Luther Strange, who in February was appointed by Alabama’s governor to fill Sessions’ seat on an interim basis, and Roy Moore, the former chief justice of the state’s Supreme Court. Moore earned national notoriety for his fight to have a monument to the Ten Commandments displayed in the Alabama Judicial Building.

The general election for the Senate seat will be held Dec. 12. 

This article has been updated to include Brooks’ comments about the ad.

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