LITTLE ROCK — Republican 2nd District congressional candidate French Hill on Monday accused Democratic candidate Patrick Hays of misrepresenting his record on gun rights, a charge that Hays called misleading and desperate.

LITTLE ROCK — Republican 2nd District congressional candidate French Hill on Monday accused Democratic candidate Patrick Hays of misrepresenting his record on gun rights, a charge that Hays called misleading and desperate.


Hill, a Little Rock banking executive, criticized Hays, former longtime mayor of North Little Rock, for noting his membership in the National Rifle Association in a television ad.


In the ad, Hays stands in his garage in front of a table of guns he is cleaning and says, "These are my guns. I’m a proud member of the NRA, and I’ll protect our Second Amendment rights."


Hill’s campaign said in a statement Monday that although Hays may claim membership in the NRA, he is the only office seeker in Arkansas to receive an F rating from that organization, which has endorsed Hill and has run a television ad in Arkansas attacking Hays.


"I am proud of my NRA endorsement and A rating," said Hill, who was scheduled to be joined by former Gov. Mike Huckabee at a rally in Conway on Monday evening. "While my opponent supports more government mandates and President Obama’s liberal gun agenda, I will hold President Obama accountable and fight for common sense, Arkansas values."


Hays’ campaign manager, David Furr, said in a statement Monday, "A lot of nonsense gets thrown around seven days before an election, but here’s what the executive vice president of the NRA said about Mayor Hays in September of 2014 — one month ago — when they nominated him to receive the NRA National Patriot’s Medal: ‘Mr. Hays: You’ve stood by me in some of the toughest battles ever fought by the NRA,’ and ‘America’s gun owners owe you a tremendous debt of gratitude.’


"The truth is Mayor Hays is a strong supporter of the Second Amendment and has made it clear he will do nothing to jeopardize the rights of Arkansans to keep and bear arms," Furr said.


The letter from Wayne LaPierre with the NRA is addressed to Hays, but nothing specific to Hays is mentioned in the body of missive, which appears to be a form letter aimed at soliciting increased dues.


"Today, I urge you to join our ranks and claim this medal as your own by accepting my invitation, expanding your commitment to the NRA, and becoming a Golden Eagle. Golden Eagle dues are $200 per year, which you can pay in full right away or in four installments of $50 each within a 12-month period," the letter states.


Gun rights also have become an issue in Arkansas’ governor’s race, where the NRA has declined to endorse a candidate but former NRA President David Keene has personally endorsed Republican Asa Hutchinson. Both Hutchinson and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mike Ross have A ratings from the NRA.


Early voting began last week for the Nov. 4 election.