Will Big Money Boost Gun Control?

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Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg is putting a heavy $50 million behind the political force supporting gun control, saying he hopes to create an organization that could compete with the National Rifle Association for anti-gun-violence interests. One way to do so involves the $12 million TV ad campaign for Mayors Against Illegal Guns, which was purchased Saturday and would encourage senators to support background checks and similar measures. Another way has more to do with negative reinforcement — namely Bloomberg says one should penalize those politicians who don’t get behind measures of grave importance.

“They (the NRA) say, ‘We don’t care. We’re going to go after you,’” said Bloomberg about the NRA to The New York Times. “‘If you don’t vote with us we’re going to go after your kids and your grandkids and your great-grandkids. And we’re never going to stop.’ We’ve got to make them afraid of us.”

He emphasized the role of mothers specifically in the new approach, in much the same way as Mothers Against Drunk Driving are utilized for a cause. He will combine Mayors Against Illegal Guns and Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America into Every Town for Gun Safety, an organization that will push for background checks as opposed to bans, which are not supportable at the Congressional level. That said, despite his own status in the Democratic party, he’s been getting flak for his criticism of both groups, with tunnel vision on the issues sans partisanship loyalties.

“You can tell me all you want that the Republicans would be worse in the Senate than the Democrats. Maybe they would. But that’s not what we’re talking about here,” Bloomberg said to The New York Times. In an interview with USA TODAY, Bloomberg stressed that when it comes to politicians, “These people will vote for whatever they think is in their own self interest to get elected and reelected. We’ve got to convince them [that when it comes to background checks, that’s] what the public wants, and the public’s going to vote that way.”

The former mayor’s financial push comes in the wake of the shooting at Fort Hood, Sandy Hook Elementary School, and California state senator Leland Yee’s indictment for involvement in arms trafficking — previously a major name in gun-control efforts. It also follows back-and-forth legislation in Congress on gun control and a promise from Obama for greater action to improve school safety form gun violence after Sandy Hook. In the past, some have argued that pushes for anti-gun legislation often have an even stronger push back.

Perverse as it may sound, the horrific mass shooting … at Sandy Hook Elementary produced a burst of state-level gun control bills around the country and then triggered a much stronger pro-gun backlash,” wrote Paul M. Barrett of Bloomberg, the author of GLOCK: The Rise of America’s Gun, in an opinion piece in March. If nothing else though, Bloomberg’s recent move will have funding to back it up and is targeting one of the less controversial changes to gun legislation.

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