| NEW YORK
NEW YORK Dec 17 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
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
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
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."