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Don’t drag President Barack Obama’s daughters into the debate over guns.

Just when I thought the National Rifle Association couldn’t sink any lower – it did.

The NRA released a shameless video ad this week that references Obama’s daughters, Sasha and Malia, and links the girls to Obama’s $500 million plan to reduce gun violence in America.

“Are the president’s kids more important than yours?” the narrator says in the ad.

The ad questions why Obama is critical of the NRA’s proposal to post armed guards in public schools while his own children receive U.S. Secret Service protection. The NRA calls Obama an “elitist hypocrite” and features a child’s lunchbox with the seal of the President of the United States.

“Attacking firearms and ignoring children is not a solution to the crisis we face as a nation,” the NRA said in a statement. “Only honest, law-abiding gun owners will be affected and our children will remain vulnerable to the inevitability of more tragedy.”

If the NRA wants to go after Obama, that’s fair game – but to make a case for gun rights by using Obama’s daughters in a low-class ad is shameful. It’s been widely accepted that the president’s children are off limits for political posturing, sort of a gentleman’s agreement. But clearly there are no gentlemen in the NRA – and they don’t play by the rules.

Using Obama’s children as political pawns? Seriously? The girls are 14 and 11 years old. And associating Obama’s daughters with the politics of gun laws after the shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, that claimed the lives of 20 children, is just downright despicable.

It doesn’t get any lower than this.

“Most Americans agree that a president’s children should not be used as pawns in a political fight,” said Jay Carney, the White House press secretary. “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.”

Earlier this week, Obama announced a $500 million plan to curtail gun violence. The president announced 23 executive measures that include empowering schools to hire police officers, bolster research on gun violence, and improve efforts to prosecute gun crimes. The president will also ask Congress to expand background checks on gun buyers.

But Barbara Arnwine, President and Executive Director of The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, said she is especially interested in how the United States’ policies and laws on gun control impacts communities of color.

“The tragedy at Sandy Hook was an unfortunate reminder that something needs to be done about gun violence and gun control as of yesterday,” Arnwine said is a statement. “Our inner cities and communities of color have been experiencing gun violence and deaths on an unparalleled basis for a very long time, and we can no longer wait to act.”

Arnwine said she is heartened to Obama making gun control a priority as he begins his second term, adding that African Americans are far more likely to be a victim of gun violence in America than whites.

And she pointed to the following statistics:

•       The Children’s Defense Fund Protect Children, Not Guns 2012 reports that in 2008 and 2009, black children and teens accounted for 45 percent of all child and teen gun deaths, but were only 15 percent of the total child population. Gun homicide was the leading cause of death among black teens between the ages of 15 and 19.

•       African Americans living in urban metros are more likely to die of gun violence than their white counterparts.  For example, 80 percent of the 324 people killed in Philadelphia in 2011 were killed by guns, three-quarters of whom were black.

•       According to the U.S. Census, young African American men die of gun homicide at a rate eight times greater than that of young white men, and at a rate 2.5 times higher than Hispanic males.

•       While the homicide rate is declining in our country, the number of black male victims increased by 10 percent from 5,307 in 2000 to 5,942 in 2010.

Wayne LaPierre, the chief executive and vice president of the N.R.A., wants to post armed police in the nation’s public schools – a notion that is strongly opposed by civil rights groups, educators, congressional leaders, and the Lawyers Committee.

“The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is with a good guy with a gun,” LaPierre said at a recent press conference.

LaPierre is entitled to his opinion, warped as it may be, but shouldn’t LaPierre leave Obama’s children out of the discussion?

(Photo: AP)