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ADS AIM TO KEEP GUN CONTROL IN THE SPOTLIGHT

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Coming to Salt Lake airwaves - but only a handful of other places - are ads saying the National Rifle Association lies about whether guns are constitutionally protected.

Why are they coming to Utah? "It had a little to do with (Sen.) Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), and the fact he's the incoming Senate Judiciary Committee chairman," said Sarah Brady, chairwoman of the Center to Prevent Handgun Violence.Her group fears that Hatch or other NRA-supporting Republicans might try to reverse a ban on assault weapons or the Brady Bill - named after her husband, James Brady, the press secretary shot in an attack on Ronald Reagan - that put a waiting period on gun purchases.

Hatch opposed both measures, and he's such a big NRA supporter that it even gave him a special gold-decorated flintlock rifle, which he displays in his office.

Hatch's press secretary, Paul Smith, said Thursday that Hatch has said, "There's still a lot of interest in the gun-control measures that passed in the crime bill. But right now, it isn't as high on our priority list as other judicial matters."

Hatch has said those other matters include passing a constitutional amendment to require balanced federal budgets, and laws to ban Congress from passing unfunded mandates on to states.

Smith said more crime-fighting action is high on priority lists - but not necessarily addressing gun control. He said Hatch would rather address such issues as limiting appeals by convicts and passing other tough-on-crime measures.

But Brady said her group fears that, when crime is reconsidered, members friendly to the NRA may try to bring up amendments to reverse gun-control laws.

So it is launching the ad campaign in Salt Lake City and five other cities - as well as on Court TV - to try to counter some of the expected arguments early and to try to build pressure on people such as Hatch.

The ads target claims by NRA supporters that gun control should not be allowed because of the Second Amendment's guarantee of the right to bear arms.

In the ad, Brady says the SecondAmendment applies only to the right of states to maintain militia because of its first 13 words: "A well-regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state."

The ad also scrolls through a long list of court cases that have backed up that view, and quotes retired Supreme Court Chief Justice Warren Burger saying the NRA's interpretation of the Second Amendment is "a fraud on the American public."

Brady told a press conference, "With 105 Americans losing their lives to gunfire every single day, we can no longer afford to have our national policy on gun violence influenced by the NRA's fraud."