With the U.S. Senate slated to consider comprehensive gun legislation next month, two powerful voices on different sides of the gun debate – New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the National Rifle Association’s Wayne LaPierre – are bracing for the upcoming legislative showdown on guns.
Bloomberg’s gun group, Mayors Against Illegal Guns, announced this weekend that it will pour $12 million into advertising in 13 key states to convince potentially persuadable Democratic and Republican senators to vote in favor of gun legislation, specifically focusing on the controversial universal background checks; a measure that an ABC News-Washington Post poll found is supported by 91 percent of the public.
“We’re trying to do everything we can to impress upon the senators that this is what the survivors want, this is what the public wants,” Bloomberg said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” today. “If 90 percent of the public want something, and their representatives vote against that, common sense says, they are going to have a price to pay for that.”
The two TV ads, titled “Responsibility” and “Family,” feature a hunter sitting on the bed of a pickup truck with a hunting rifle across his lap while children play on a tire-swing in the background as he argues for universal background checks.
“For me, guns are for hunting and protecting my family. I believe in the Second Amendment and I’ll fight to protect it but with rights come responsibility. That’s why I’m for comprehensive background checks so criminals and the dangerously mentally ill can’t buy guns. That protects my rights and my family,” the man says in one ad.
The ads will target Republican and Democratic senators in Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Maine, New Hampshire, Nevada, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio and Pennsylvania.
But LaPierre, executive vice president of the NRA, today dismissed Bloomberg’s ad buy and called the mayor’s positions on guns “reckless” and “insane.”
“He can’t spend enough of his $27 billion to impose his will on the American people,” LaPierre said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
“They don’t want him in their restaurants. They don’t want him in their homes. They don’t want him telling what food to eat. They sure don’t want him telling what self-defense firearms to own. He can’t buy America.”
The Senate will consider a comprehensive gun package when it returns from the holiday recess next month. For many Republicans and moderate Democrats, the universal background-check requirement, which LaPierre called “a speed bump for the law-abiding,” is the sticking point in the package.
Earlier this week, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada announced that the controversial assault-weapons ban would not be included as part of the package. Instead, it will receive a vote as an amendment but is not expected to receive approval from the full Senate.
Despite the measure’s not making it into the comprehensive plan, Bloomberg stood behind the assault-weapons ban while acknowledging the measure is “difficult” for some lawmakers to sign onto.
“I don’t think there’s ever been an issue where the public has spoken so clearly, where Congress hasn’t eventually understood and done the right thing,” Bloomberg said. “We have a lot of work ahead of us. I don’t think we should give up on the assault weapons ban. But clearly it is a more difficult issue for a lot of people.”
President Obama urged lawmakers to thoroughly consider all the gun measures that have been presented in the Senate, including the assault weapons ban, in his weekly address Saturday.
“These ideas shouldn’t be controversial,” he said. “They’re common sense. They’re supported by a majority of the American people. And I urge the Senate and the House to give each of them a vote.
“Right now, we have a real chance to reduce gun violence in America, and prevent the very worst violence. We have a unique opportunity to reaffirm our tradition of responsible gun ownership, and also do more to keep guns out of the hands of criminals or people with a severe mental illness,” he said.
“We’ve made progress over the last three months, but we’re not there yet. And in the weeks ahead, I hope members of Congress will join me in finishing the job; for our communities and, most importantly, for our kids.”