Washington (CNN) – President Barack Obama's vow Tuesday to try and ban assault weapons prompted the National Rifle Association to immediately modify its political advertising campaign against Obama in seven toss-up states.
The NRA is spending $1.5 million on television commercials in Florida, Ohio, Virginia, Wisconsin and an additional $800,000 on online ads in the aforementioned states as well as Colorado, Iowa and Nevada each week, an NRA official tells CNN. The initial ads featured a broad theme that blamed Obama for the country's debt, stated the nation's sovereignty was threatened and warned that people's rights were being attacked, including the Second Amendment during his presidency.
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But the NRA decided to focus the new ad campaign entirely on the people's rights to defend themselves after Obama mentioned a ban on assault weapons during the second presidential debate.
"What I'm trying to do is to get a broader conversation about how do we reduce the violence generally," Obama said in response to an audience question about assault weapons. "Part of it is seeing if we can get an assault weapons ban reintroduced. But part of it is also looking at other sources of the violence. Because frankly, in my home town of Chicago, there's an awful lot of violence and they're not using AK-47s. They're using cheap hand guns."
The NRA, which endorsed Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney earlier this month, has been very vocal about trying to defeat Obama in November.
"Some gun owners took Obama at his word four years ago, when he said he wouldn't take their guns away," said Chris W. Cox, executive director, NRA's Institute for Legislative Action. "So, after years of paying lip service to the Second Amendment, President Obama finally let it slip last night that he supports the most draconian form of gun control – a gun ban."
The new commercial charges that Obama is jeopardizing people's rights to defend themselves and specifically mentions the president's nominations to the Supreme Court - Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor.
"Obama put two justices on the Supreme Court, who threaten our right to self defense," the ad's narrator says.
The assault weapons ban was signed into law by President Bill Clinton in September 1994, but it expired 10 years later during President George W. Bush's first term in office.
When Romney was asked about assault weapons during the debate, he repeated that he is against instituting any new gun laws.
"I'm not in favor of new pieces of legislation on guns and taking guns away or making certain guns illegal," he said.
When asked why he no longer supports an assault weapons ban after signing one into law as governor of Massachusetts, Romney said the law was a compromise between pro- and anti-gun advocates.
"In my state, the pro-gun folks and the anti-gun folks came together and put together a piece of legislation," Romney said. "And it's referred to as an assault weapon ban, but it had, at the signing of the bill, both the pro-gun and the anti-gun people came together, because it provided opportunities for both that both wanted."
In addition to the NRA's new ad campaign against Obama, the organization has hired political operatives to work in 13 states and expects to have reached 50 million homes through phone calls and direct mail by Election Day. The NRA is expected to spend between $30-$40 million on this election.
"NRA has an effective strategy with a heavy emphasis on our ground game," Cox said. "We will be working overtime to mobilize the gun vote in every state but paying very close attention and marshalling extra resources in key states."
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