Judging by campaign media, Minnesota's 8th Congressional District is a key battleground for gun control.
In a new campaign ad, Republican challenger Stewart Mills accuses Rick Nolan, his DFL opponent, of having "no respect" for the Second Amendment and wearing "hunter's orange" when it's politically expedient.
The NRA, Mills notes, gave Nolan an "F" grade in 2012. Cue the indignation.
Nolan fired back in a press release, calling the ad a "smear campaign tactic that couldn't be further from the truth." As a gun owner and hunter, he said, he was raised on the principles that firearms are "deeply ingrained in our culture, way of life, and legal rights."
What's more, he pointed to a January 2013 video in which Mills advocates for an increased tax on guns to pay for armed security guards in schools. The middle class, Nolan suggested, would end up with the bill.
The whole thing is beginning to sound like a pissing contest over who loves guns more. But as silly as that seems, gun control is actually shaping up to be bigger deal than in past elections. Think of all the massacres since November 2012.
For instance, Gabby Gifford's PAC is pushing firearm restriction this fall as a "wedge issue among voters," according to HuffPo. Just this week, the Bloomberg-backed Everytown for Gun Safety released an aggressive questionnaire to gauge candidates' reactions on things like background checks and trafficking.
Of course, gun lobbyists are gearing up, too. They're just not spending their money in Minnesota (or at least not yet).
A campaign finance database shows that the NRA Political Victory Fund has raised $16.7 million for the upcoming election -- about $2.3 million more than in 2012, and the most in 12 years.
How much of that money has wound up in the 8th District? $50. Which was given to Mills in exchange for a "Booth Rental."
Hey, it beats Nolan's zero.