Mark Greenberg, (file photo)

Washington – Less than 24 hours after GOP congressional candidate Mark Greenberg said he favored universal FBI background checks for those seeking to purchase firearms, the National Rifle Association dropped his rating from an ‘A’ to an ‘F.”

The NRA also disputed Greenberg’s contention that he didn’t fill out an NRA questionnaire on his views, saying he had done so when seeking the 5th District seat in 2012.

This is the third time Greenberg has tried to represent the 5th District, which includes Newtown, where 20 first-graders and six school employees were shot by Adam Lanza in December of 2012. In a debate in Danbury on Thursday evening against Rep. Elizabeth Esty, D-5th District, Greenberg said he backed universal background checks. Greenberg said he was surprised at his ‘A’ rating from the NRA and correctly predicted a downgrade.

“I was as shocked as anybody” by the rating, Greenberg said. “I didn’t even fill out a questionnaire. I’ll be downgraded to an ‘F’ after tonight.”

NRA spokeswoman Catherine Mortensen said Friday, “Mr. Greenberg completed a perfect NRA Federal Candidate Questionnaire in 2012, when he was running in the Republican primary for the U.S. House of Representatives in Connecticut’s 5th CD and seeking the NRA’s endorsement.”

“At that time he told us ‘gun sales by private citizens who are not engaged in an ongoing firearms business should not be subject to federal background check requirements.’ However, Mr. Greenberg recently told Connecticut voters he supports universal background checks. As a result of his recent comment and false statement on his questionnaire, the NRA has downgraded Mr. Greenberg to an ‘F’ rating.”

Greenberg campaign manager Bill Evans said Friday that, “Mark did not know about the NRA’s ‘A Rating’ this cycle until Ms. Esty mentioned it in yet another one of her diversionary press releases from the past several weeks.”

“Given the sensitivity of the tragedy in Sandy Hook, and Democrats like Senator (Richard) Blumenthal shamelessly exploiting the tragedy in fundraising emails and press releases, we did not answer any gun-related surveys this campaign cycle, on either side of the aisle,” he said.

“Mark’s position on the Second Amendment-and quite frankly on all the amendments is very clear,” Evans said.

In the NRA questionnaire, which Greenberg filled out before the Newtown shootings, he answered a multiple choice question on background checks by circling the response that stated, “I support current laws and oppose further regulations. Gun sales by private citizens who are not engaged in an ongoing firearm business should not be subject to federal background check requirements, whether the sale takes place at a gun show or elsewhere.”

Scott Wilson, president of the Connecticut Citizens Defense League, said there’s a chance  the CCDL may pull their endorsement of Greenberg.

“I’m thinking there’s a possibility he doesn’t understand what the process for background checks entails.”

“I haven’t spoken to the board yet,” Wilson said.

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Ana has written about politics and policy in Washington, D.C.. for Gannett, Thompson Reuters and UPI. She was a special correspondent for the Miami Herald, and a regular contributor to The New York TImes, Advertising Age and several other publications. She has also worked in broadcast journalism, for CNN and several local NPR stations. She is a graduate of the University of Maryland School of Journalism.

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