New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is set to launch a $12 million national ad campaign designed to pressure “swing senators” into voting for stricter gun control laws, the New York Times reports.
Since the assault weapons ban has, for now, taken a back seat, Bloomberg apparently plans to focus on pushing universal background checks in 13 states during an upcoming Easter Congressional recess.
The New York Times continues:
“You don’t want to lose everything in the interest of getting the perfect,” Mr. Bloomberg said in an interview, acknowledging his disappointment over the apparent unlikelihood of an assault weapons ban, but insisting he is resolved to push the legislation through at a time when its prospects are uncertain.
The mayor’s advertising blitz, which will saturate television screens in states including Ohio, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Arizona, represents by far the biggest escalation of Mr. Bloomberg’s attempts to become a one-man counterweight to the National Rifle Association in the political clash over guns.
“The N.R.A. has just had this field to itself,” Mr. Bloomberg said. “It’s the only one that’s been speaking out. It’s time for another voice.”
After months of wrangling, the current package of Senate legislation would expand background checks for gun buyers, increase penalties for people who buy firearms for those barred from owning them and would give law enforcement new tools to combat illegal gun trafficking, a longtime goal of Mr. Bloomberg’s. [Emphasis added]
Here’s one of the ads, in which a self-described hunter says “background checks have nothing to do with taking guns away from anyone”:
Republicans and Democrats alike will feel the pressure from the campaign, depending on their voting records. In the end, Bloomberg says he will support candidates “who will stop people from getting killed.”
“There is an easy measure of how you decide who those are,” he added for the New York Times. “The N.R.A. keeps score of it for you. They are public information.”
Another ad begins with the same man holding a rifle saying he believes in the Second Amendment, but cautioning that “with rights come responsibilities.”
“That’s why I support comprehensive background checks,” he says, “so criminals and the dangerously mentally ill can’t buy guns.”
“Tell Congress: ‘Don’t protect criminals,’” the ad concludes. “Vote to protect gun rights and our families with comprehensive background checks. Demand action now.”
Watch the second ad (featuring the same man) below:
But the NRA is already gearing up in defense. Back in February NRA executive vice president and CEO Wayne LaPierre came out strongly against universal background checks, claiming they would lead to a registry that “will be used to confiscate your guns.”
And Chris W. Cox, the NRA’s chief lobbyist, expressed doubts about Bloomberg’s ability to influence areas outside of New York City.
“What he is going to find out is that Americans don’t want to be told by some elitist billionaire what they can eat, drink and they damn well don’t want to be told how, when, and where they can protect their families,” he told the New York Times.