Bloomberg slams lawmakers for fear of gun lobby

NEW YORK Mon Dec 17, 2012 8:30pm EST

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg (C), along with survivors and family members of gun violence victims, addresses the media as part of the Mayors Against Illegal Guns group, to announce the release of 34 ''I Demand a Plan'' videos in New York December 17, 2012. The videos tell stories of Americans whose lives have been changed forever because of gun violence. Bloomberg has upped his stance on the issue since the December 14 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting massacre in Newtown, Connecticut. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg (C), along with survivors and family members of gun violence victims, addresses the media as part of the Mayors Against Illegal Guns group, to announce the release of 34 ''I Demand a Plan'' videos in New York December 17, 2012. The videos tell stories of Americans whose lives have been changed forever because of gun violence. Bloomberg has upped his stance on the issue since the December 14 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting massacre in Newtown, Connecticut.

Credit: Reuters/Andrew Kelly

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NEW YORK (Reuters) - New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg joined loved ones of victims of shootings from Colorado to Virginia to blast U.S. lawmakers on Monday for being too cowed by the firearms lobby to pass gun control laws that could save lives.

At a City Hall press conference, Bloomberg described Friday's mass shooting at a Connecticut elementary school as "no aberration," and said it should make tightening gun laws the top priority of the president and Congress.

"Somehow or other, we've come to think that getting reelected is more important than saving lives, that political power is more important than saving lives," he said in an angry, emotional tone. "Enough."

The mayor was joined by more than two dozen survivors and relatives of victims of mass shootings including the gun violence at a cinema in Aurora, Colorado, last July, at a 2011 public meeting held by Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords in Tucson, and at Virginia Tech in 2007.

Any one of those earlier massacres should have been cause enough to tighten gun laws, he said.

"This is an outrage," Bloomberg said, referring to the disproportionately high number of gun deaths in the U.S. compared to other developed nations. "We are killing each other, and we are the only industrialized nation doing it."

Bloomberg is the co-chair of Mayors Against Illegal Guns, a coalition of more than 700 U.S. mayors advocating against gun violence.

He said the coalition was calling for Congress to require a criminal background check for all gun sales, closing what he said was an "enormous" loophole whereby private gun sales -- whether online or at gun shows -- do not require such checks.

He also called for Congress to ban "military-style" assault weapons and high-capacity magazines and to pass laws making gun trafficking a felony.

"It's not a panacea," he said of these measures, "it wouldn't get rid of all the guns on the streets, but it would go a long way towards limiting them and limiting the number of people killed."

Bloomberg also urged the president to fill the six-year-old vacancy at the head of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, which has been run by a series of acting directors since 2006.

He also criticized the U.S. Department of Justice for not prosecuting people who fail background checks due to fraudulent applications. In 2009, the department prosecuted only 77 out of the more than 71,000 such cases uncovered by the FBI, Bloomberg said.

Neither the ATF nor the Justice Department immediately responded to a request for comment on the mayor's assertions.

New York's billionaire mayor formed a super PAC this year, and suggested on Monday he would consider using those funds to counteract the lobbying of groups such as the National Rifle Association that typically oppose tighter gun laws.

"I'm going to do what I think is appropriate to try to impact the dialogue," he said. "Shame on me if I don't."

(Editing by Barbara Goldberg and Andrew Hay)

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Comments (11)
txguy2112 wrote:
Did he have his armed guards with him? Hypocrite

Dec 18, 2012 6:55am EST  --  Report as abuse
lawgone wrote:
This guy was a Republican, a Democrat and now hes an Independent. Hes really a die hard Liberal. Perfect for NY, which is where he and his opinions should stay. There is no loophole Mikey, its something you made up so you can further your agenda, but thats what libs do.

Dec 18, 2012 8:02am EST  --  Report as abuse
ughagain wrote:
I am so happy to see this. We need courage to stop this culture of violence and stand up to the NRA and the gun industry. Thank you, mayor, for standing up to the terrorism of those with absolutist gun-rights agendas. The Second Amendment doesn’t guarantee the right to terrorize the nation through weapons of mass murder- which is exactly what a Bushmaster and other semiautomatic weapons are.

Dec 18, 2012 9:07am EST  --  Report as abuse
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