In the aftermath of the massacre of 20 young schoolchildren and six school staffers last December in Connecticut, the word was that this shooting spree was somehow going to be different from all the rest—different from Virginia Tech and Aurora, Colo., and Columbine and Luby’s Cafeteria back in ’91 and, well, all the rest that keep on happening far too regularly. This time, America was going to look at itself in the mirror and change.
So far, though, the Sandy Hook shootings haven’t caused much change. The “national conversation” has dragged on and senators will finally introduce new gun legislation soon. This will be the “first time in years” Congress takes a look at “significant gun control legislation,” NBC reports. But the inaction and relative toothlessness of the legislation has kicked New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg into gear.
Billionaire Bloomberg, fresh off the legal system’s rejection of his big-soda ban, has decided to take a chunk of his money and try to move the never-ending gun debate from talk to action. In a joint effort with the group he co-founded, Mayors Against Illegal Guns, he has spent $12 million to air ads that “features a rifle-toting hunter making the case for background checks” which launched Monday in 13 states such as Nevada, Ohio, North Carolina, Louisiana and Arkansas where he “believes key senators can be swayed,’ the New York Daily News reports.
Bloomberg promised on “Meet the Press” on Sunday that this wasn’t the end of his efforts: “I have a responsibility ... to try to make this country safer,” Bloomberg said. “If I can do that by spending some money, and taking the NRA from being the only voice to being one of the voices, so the public can really understand the issues, then I think my money will be well spent and I think I have an obligation to do that.”
Bloomberg is starting his efforts focused on instituting universal background checks because it has broader appeal nationally than something like banning assault weapons. NRA head Wayne LaPierre also appeared on “Meet the Press” and unsurprisingly dissed both Bloomberg and the background checks.
The Mayor has put up his own bucks on gun-control issues before. According to the L.A. Times, he “spent more than $3 million last fall to help defeat California Democratic Congressman Joe Baca, whom he regarded as weak on gun control” and “also contributed to a campaign that ousted an NRA-backed candidate in an Illinois congressional primary race.”
From the sound of Bloomberg’s fervor, he’ll remain a busy mensch when his mayoral duties are completed at year’s end.