The National Rifle Association fired the opening salvo in the latest battle over gun control and the Second Amendment, releasing an ad calling President Obama an "elitist hypocrite" ahead of his scheduled announcement of the findings of Vice President Biden's task force on gun violence Wednesday.
"Are the president's kids more important than yours?" the ad asks. "Then why is he skeptical about putting armed guards in our schools when his kids are protected by armed guards at their schools?"
"Mr. Obama demands the wealthy pay their fair share of taxes, but he's just another elitist hypocrite when it comes to a fair share of security," the ad continues. "Protection for their kids and gun-free zones for ours."
The ad was immediately eviscerated as inappropriate for bringing up Malia and Sasha Obama, especially since the children of politicians are generally considered to be off limits for political attacks.
The White House reacted angrily to the ad.
"Most Americans agree that a president's children should not be used as pawns in a political fight," White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said, "but to go so far as to make the safety of the president's children the subject of an attack ad is repugnant and cowardly,"
The NRA responded to criticism in a statement to NBC, saying the ad was not about the president's children.
"Whoever thinks the ad is about President Obama's daughters are missing the point completely or they're trying to change the subject," NRA spokesman Andrew Arulanandam said in a statement. "This ad is about keeping our children safe. And the President said he was skeptical about the NRA proposal to put policemen in all schools in this country. Yet he and his family are beneficiaries of multiple law enforcement officers surrounding them 24 hours a day."
Joe Scarborough, the conservative host of MSNBC's Morning Joe had a public change of heart on gun control in the wake of the Sandy Hook shooting, and he held nothing back Wednesday in denouncing the NRA's attempt at framing the debate.
"You have children who had no say in the decision in whether their father, who is going to step forward to be president of the United States, to run for president — one of the most bone-crushing, sacrificing things any husband or wife can do to their family," he said on his show Wednesday. "And the second they make that decision, their children and their entire family have targets on their backs.”
“And the NRA is putting something out?” he continued. “What’s wrong with these people? Putting out apps that 4 year olds can play on the anniversary of the Newtown murders and now putting out an ad talking about the president’s daughters.”
This is how they mark the anniversary of Newtown,” Scarborough said. “I’ve never seen an organization as out of touch and extreme with middle America as this one."
Former White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs slammed the ad as well, calling it "disgusting on so many levels."
"It's just stupid," Gibbs said. "This reminds me of an ad that somebody made about 2:00 in the morning after one two many drinks, and no one stopped it in the morning."
Larry Pratt, the executive director of Gun Owners of America, called the ad "spot on," in an appearance on Fox's America's Newsroom
It points to the hypocrisy that we see so much from our ruling class, and it underscores the need that we’ve been pointing to that if we’re going to get serious about protecting our children, we’re going to do away with the ‘gun-free zone’ requirements in federal law, which have created a magnet for these mass murders,” Pratt said.
The NRA is touting an influx of members in the month following the shootings, but support for stricter restrictions on gun use is on the rise, spiking from 43 percent in 2011 to 58 percent at the end of 2012.
The Secret Service began formally protecting the immediate family of the president in 1917.