New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg upped the ante in the country’s gun control debate Sunday, putting up $12 million of his own money to run advertisements in swing states calling for tougher federal gun regulations.
Bloomberg detailed his plan during a Sunday morning appearance on “Meet the Press.” He said that the Senate was ignoring the will of the people by refusing to pass an assault weapons ban, and that there would be a political price to pay for inaction on guns.
“I don’t think we should give up on the assault weapons ban. But clearly it is a more difficult issue for a lot of people,” Bloomberg said. “I don’t know that that reflects the NRA’s power. It may be just that people have different views about assault weapons than they do about background checks.”
He added, “If 90 percent of the public wants something and their representatives vote against that, common sense says [the representatives are] going to have a price to pay.”
By putting up a small portion of his fortune, Bloomberg has now emerged as the face of the gun control movement. New York State became the first state to pass tougher gun control laws in the wake of the Sandy Hook massacre. The law limits magazine size, requires the registration of one million older guns, and bans some semi-automatic rifles.
Bloomberg’s move puts him in line with President Obama, who on Saturday called for Congress to act on gun control legislation. But it has also put him at odds with NRA chief Wayne LaPierre, who appeared on “Meet the Press” after Bloomberg.
LaPierre accused Bloomberg of trying to “buy America.”
“He can’t spend enough of his $27 billion to try to impose his will on the American public,” LaPierre said. “They don’t want him in their restaurants, they don’t want him in their homes, they don’t want him telling what food to eat. They sure don’t want him telling what self-defense firearms to own. He can’t buy America. He’s so reckless in terms of his comments in terms of this gun issue.”
“He’s going to find out that this is a country of the people, for the people and by the people,” LaPierre added. “It’s insane the stuff he says.”
LaPierre reiterated the NRA’s opposition to any new gun control legislation, despite public support for background checks. He also called for armed guards in schools, and then accused the national media of distorting the gun debate. He said that any new law would create a national registry that would exclude criminals.
“Who’s going to be in the system? You and me,” said LaPierre. “There will be a registry.”