Bloomberg criticizes Sebelius' Plan B decision, decries Washington’s intransigence on gun laws

Kathleen Sebelius and Michael Bloomberg. (Dana Rubinstein)
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This morning, just minutes before he was to tour a health care job-placement center with U.S. Health and Human Services secretary Kathleen Sebelius, Mayor Michael Bloomberg criticized her  decision to forbid girls younger than 17 from using the morning-after pill without a prescription.

Wednesday marked the first time a Health and Human Services secretary publicly overruled the Food and Drug Administration, after its commissioner, a former New York City health commissioner, ruled that girls under the age of 17 should have access to the morning-after pill without a prescription.

"[FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg] has a reputation as being a first-rate scientist and I think that her advise should be followed," said Bloomberg. "It was based not on politics, it was based on real scientific research. Why Sebelius decided to overrule her, I don’t know, you’d have to address her."

"The bottom line is we have many too many out-of-wedlock births in this country, and yes, the people who say young girls shouldn’t get pregnant, they’re 100 percent right," said the mayor. "We do, in the city, a lot to try to teach people and inform them of the consequences of being parents and the responsibilities and it would be much better if young girls didn’t get pregnant, but once that happens, I think that this should be available to anybody."

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Bloomberg was haggard-looking and hoarse-voiced this morning at a question-and-answer session with reporters in advance of his tour with Sebelius. He said he'd been awakened at 4 a.m. with the news that Peter Figoski, a 22-year NYPD veteran, had been shot in the face while trying to foil a home invasion in Cypress Hills. He later died. The mayor met this morning with Figoski's parents, and two of his daughters.

"These conversations, as you might imagine, are the hardest that we have to do and the worst part of being mayor and it just does not get easier," he said.

A reporter asked him if Washington had made any recent progress in cracking down on illegal gun sales, giving the mayor an opening to talk about one of his marquee issues.

"This year, we, a lot of people, helped in keeping Congress from passing this Right to Carry bill, where every state would have to recognize the carry laws in other states," the mayor responded. "And there are some states that have no laws, so it would essentially mean everybody could carry a gun anyplace no matter what state laws were, and Congress did not pass it."

"I suppose that’s progress," he said, sounding unconvinced.

The mayor also pointed to his Mayors Against Illegal Guns coalition, which now numbers something like 650 mayors, and his campaigning on behalf of elected officials who support gun control.

"If you think about it, this has nothing to do with the Second Amendment," he said. "Congress has itself passed federal laws that said you can’t sell guns to people who have psychiatric problems or have criminal records or are minors. And then Congress does everything it can to keep law enforcement from being able to enforce those laws."

"Virtually every manufacturer of every single product in this country can be held liable if it can proved that they produced and sold a product that they knew was dangerous, automobiles, everything, airplanes, no matter what it is, except for the gun industry," added the mayor. "Think about that. The gun industry is the only one that by federal statute is absolved from any liability. And you all know what guns are used for. I mean, some are used for hunting. But you don’t need armor-piercing bullets for hunting. The last time I saw a deer wearing a bulletproof vest was a long time ago. You don’t need a clip to put into an automatic pistol that has 32 bullets in it.

"If it takes you 32 bullets to kill a deer, it’s certainly not sport. Guns are bought and used to kill people and you saw that again this morning. This was one of ours, and it happens across this country. There have more Americans killed with handguns since R.F.K. and Martin Luther King Jr. were assassinated, more Americans killed than Americans were killed in World War II. Something like over 400,000, and it still goes on."