| WASHINGTON, March 24
WASHINGTON, March 24 New York Mayor Michael
Bloomberg predicted on Sunday that pressure from the American
public would eventually force the U.S. Congress to expand
background checks for gun buyers, even though the measure faces
an uncertain fate in the Senate.
As Bloomberg launched a $12 million national advertising
campaign aimed at prodding members of the Senate to support
expanded background checks, he said the measure's widespread
popularity would trump gun-rights groups like the powerful
National Rifle Association that oppose it.
"If 90 percent of the public wants something and their
representatives vote against that, common sense says they are
going to have a price to pay for that," Bloomberg said on NBC's
"Meet the Press."
A top NRA executive predicted that the self-made
billionaire' s efforts would change few minds. "He can't buy
America," NRA executive vice president Wayne LaPierre said on
the same program.
Lawmakers are scaling back President Barack Obama's
ambitions for sweeping gun control measures, which took on a new
urgency after the Dec. 14 school shooting in Newtown,
Connecticut, that killed 20 children and six adults.
Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid effectively ruled out an
assault weapons ban last week, and limits on high-capacity
ammunition clips also are likely to fall short.
Gun-control advocates say a system of expanded background
checks would be the single most effective way to reduce gun
violence across the country. Opinion polls show that more than
90 percent of all American voters and 85 percent of gun owners
While such a measure could pass the Democratic-controlled
Senate, it faces long odds in the House of Representatives,
where Republicans hold the majority.
"I don't think their bill will pass the Senate and even if
it does it won't pass the House," Republican Senator Tom Coburn
said on C-SPAN.
The NRA argues that expanding existing background checks to
cover the 40 percent of gun sales that are now exempt would only
create more hurdles for law abiding citizens and do little to
deter criminal purchases. The NRA instead wants the federal
government to step up prosecutions under existing gun laws and
boost security in schools.
Bloomberg acknowledged that a national ban on assault
weapons is less popular with the public and is unlikely to
succeed in Congress.
Several states, including New York, have passed
assault-weapons bans of their own but others like Colorado,
which tightened its gun laws recently, have not restricted the
military-style rifles that are popular with gun owners.
"I think the feeling right now around assault weapons, at
least in Colorado, is that it's so hard to define what an
assault weapon is," Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper said on
CNN's "State of the Nation."
"There's a lot of questions whether the 10-year federal ban
that existed made a difference," Hickenlooper said. "It's a
(Additional reporting by David Brunnstrom and Toni Clarke.
Editing by Christopher Wilson)