Bloomberg: ‘Clearly the White House was listening’
Mayor Michael Bloomberg this afternoon thanked the White House for its "bold" gun control plan, while also taking credit for much of what's in it.
"Today it's clear that the president and vice president heard us and they heard the American people," said the mayor today, just a few minutes after President Barack Obama finished unveiling his new gun control package.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg has been aggressively pursuing stricter gun control laws for years now. He co-founded Mayors Against Illegal Guns in 2006, underwrites its operations, and imagines a day in which it will rival the National Rifle Association in political might.
Following every major gun violence tragedy, from the death of Trayvon Martin to the Aurora movie theater massacre, he's called for stricter gun regulations.
But it was only after the murder by gun of 20 small children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School that his gun control ambitions found traction at both the state and national level.
Governor Andrew Cuomo made gun control one of the signature themes of his third State of the State speech and just yesterday became the first governor in the nation to sign stricter gun control laws after Sandy Hook.
Today, Obama and Vice President Joe Biden presented their own national gun control agenda, one that seems largely modeled on Bloomberg's own gun control priorities.
Bloomberg and his staff spoke regularly with the administration as it was crafting that agenda, and today Bloomberg said, "Clearly the White House was listening."
"On the legislative side, we asked for background checks for all gun sales, and that is in the president's plan," said the mayor, speaking to press at City Hall. "We asked for restrictions on military-style semiautomatic rifles and high-capacity magazines and that's there as well. We asked for tougher penalties for gun traffickers. It's in there. On the executive side, we urged him to appoint an ATF director, increase prosecutions for those who lie on background checks, direct federal agencies to fill in the gaps of the background check data system and remove restrictions on gun violence data in research, and the president is doing all of those things."
Basically all of the mayor's proposals have been included in the president plan, according to the mayor's office.
Many of these proposals, however, require action by Congress, and it's not at all clear that the Republican-controlled House will comply.
"You don't force Congress to act, you convince Congress that it's in this country's interest," said Bloomberg, optimistically.
In the meantime, the National Rifle Association has been ramping up its lobbying efforts, and launched an ad campaign that directly targets, among others, Bloomberg.