If we told you a Democratic Senator had openly criticized the Obama administration for pushing “extreme” measures on gun control that don’t address the problem, while proudly advertising an “A” rating from the NRA, would you believe it?

You should, because that’s exactly what’s happening right now. The Washington Post reports that Senator Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota has done all of the above and then some in criticizing her party’s moral panic over guns in the wake of the Sandy Hook shooting:

“I think you need to put everything on the table, but what I hear from the administration — and if the Washington Post is to be believed — that’s way, way in extreme of what I think is necessary or even should be talked about.  And it’s not going to pass,” Heitkamp said on ABC News’s “This Week With George Stephanopoulos.”[...]

Heitkamp, a freshman senator, has received an “A” rating from the National Rifle Association, the nation’s largest gun-rights group. She said that addressing mental health issues should also be an important part of curbing mass violence.

Senator Heidi Heitkamp Says Obama Administration Gun Control Measures Extreme

Heidi Heitkamp (Photo credit: Boston Globe)

“Let’s start addressing the problem.  And to me, one of the issues that I think comes — screams out of this is the issue of mental health and the care for the mentally ill in our country, especially the dangerously mentally ill.  And so we need to have a broad discussion before we start talking about gun control,” Heitkamp said.

Watch Heitkamp make these comments on the “This Week” panel below:

Heitkamp’s apparent heresy relative to her party is not a new phenomenon in the Senate. Every now and then a legislator will buck their party on an issue that, while beloved by the national party leadership, is a surefire loser in their home state. Democrat Joe Manchin has bucked the Democrats before on issues pertaining to energy for precisely this reason. Heitkamp, who pulled out a surprise upset against Republican Rick Berg last year, must be aware that she needs to cultivate the love of her home state if she wants to avoid future vulnerability. This type of messaging certainly accomplishes that goal.