For the third consecutive election, the National Rifle Association has endorsed U.S. Rep. John Katko in the 24th Congressional District race.
Katko, R-Camillus, received the gun rights group's backing when he was a challenger in 2014 and again in 2016 when he successfully ran for re-election.
The NRA also gave Katko an "A" rating. According to organization's website, the mark is given to a "solidly pro-gun candidate" who "supported NRA positions on key votes in elective office or a candidate with a demonstrated record of support on Second Amendment issues."
Katko has been a proponent of the Second Amendment throughout his tenure in Congress. He supported one of the NRA's top legislative priorities, a bill that would allow individuals with valid permits to carry concealed firearms across state lines.
He also voted for the repeal of a rule requiring the Social Security Administration to report mentally ill recipients who are determined by a court or to be a danger to themselves or others. The information would've been used to add the individual to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System and prevent them from legally purchasing firearms.
The NRA opposed the rule.
Despite the prior support of the NRA and financial contributions to his campaign, Katko expressed interest this year in some gun safety measures.
After the shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida, he announced his support for banning bump stocks and improvements to the background check system. He didn't rule out whether he would support universal background checks for gun purchases, which would put him at odds with the NRA's position. (The NRA doesn't want to expand background checks.)
Katko partnered with Democratic U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar to introduce a bill that would establish a commission to examine mass shootings. He followed that legislative push with the sponsorship of a separate bill to encourage states to adopt "red flag" laws, which provide a mechanism for family members or police to have guns temporarily removed from a dangerous individual's possession.
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Katko's Democratic opponent in the 24th district, Dana Balter, slammed the legislative proposal. She called it "toothless."
Balter, D-Syracuse, received an "F" rating from the NRA. The grade is given to a "true enemy of gun owners' rights," according to the organization's website, and someone who "always opposes gun owners' rights and/or actively leads anti-gun legislative efforts, or sponsors anti-gun legislation."
Throughout her campaign, Balter has reiterated her support for new gun laws. She supports universal background checks and wants to reinstate the assault weapons ban. She also endorsed the repeal of the Dickey Amendment, a provision prohibiting federal funds from being used to support gun violence research at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Balter has been endorsed by a handful of groups advocating for stricter gun laws. She was designated a "Gun Sense Candidate" by Moms Demand Action. Giffords PAC, which was founded by former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, backed her last week.
This week, New Yorkers Against Gun Violence endorsed Balter for Congress.
Katko is seeking a third term in Congress. Balter, a first-time candidate for political office, is hoping to unseat him.
The 24th Congressional District race is becoming a key battleground in the fight for control of the House of Representatives. After Balter reported raising a record $1.5 million in the third quarter, Cook Political Report changed its race rating from "likely Republican" to "lean Republican."
Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 6.