Castelli pushes back on NRA after receiving poor gun lobby grade, calls organization ‘corrupt’

Matt Castelli is seen at Riverside Park in Saranac Lake on May 22 during a campaign stop. He won the Democratic nomination to take on U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-Schuylerville, in November. ​ (Enterprise photo — Aaron Cerbone)

Matt Castelli, the Democrat running for the 21st Congressional District against Rep. Elise Stefanik, on Monday denounced the National Rifle Association and its endorsement of his opponent, and said he would not support a ban on assault weapons sales.

The NRA’s Political Victory Fund released its most recent legislative scorecard last week, giving Rep. Stefanik, R-Schuylerville, an “A” rating, indicating she is among the most fervent anti-gun control legislators in Congress. The NRA has also endorsed the congresswoman in her run for reelection.

Legislators who receive “A “ ratings from the NRA typically oppose any measures to restrict access to weapons, vote against gun safety measures in office and advocate for nearly unimpeded access to weapons for American citizens.

Castelli, meanwhile, was given an “F,” which the NRA says indicates an “extremely anti-gun” candidate who supports gun control measures like red flag laws, waiting periods, background checks and other restrictions on weapons sales or use.

In a statement issued Monday, Castelli said the NRA is a corrupt organization and its rating system ignores factual statements from candidates.

Castelli said he supports the Second Amendment right to own and use weaponry, and is himself a gun owner. He said he opposes a number of gun safety and control measures popular among other Democrats.

“I do not support an ill-defined ‘assault weapons’ ban, and defeated my far left primary opponent (Matt Putorti) who attacked me on that position,” Castelli said.

In a town hall meeting on Sept. 14, as reported by the Adirondack Daily Enterprise, Castelli said he would not support an assault weapons ban, and rather prefers to support programs that aim to keep all weapons out of the hands of those who would use them to harm others, people he defined as “cop killers, kid killers, domestic abusers and terrorists.”

Castelli has also opposed the most recent gun control measures passed by New York state, which restrict people from carrying weapons throughout a wide swath of public spaces, including parks.

Castelli said he never received any questionnaire from the NRA to define his positions on gun control, something the organization failed to identify in its score for him. Other candidates who did not answer questionnaires from the NRA were given “unknown” ratings, despite also having public statements about gun control easily searchable online as Castelli does.

“(The NRA is) misleading the public with the claim that they rank political candidates based on voting records, public statements and their response to an NRA-PVF questionnaire,” he said. “The corrupt NRA has abandoned its original values of responsible gun ownership, cut funding to gun training and safety, and now represents corporate interests, not law-abiding gun owners.”

The NY-21 congressional election is set for Nov. 8.


Today's breaking news and more in your inbox

I'm interested in (please check all that apply)
Are you a paying subscriber to the newspaper? *

Starting at $4.75/week.

Subscribe Today