12:32 pm Mar. 21, 20133
It's not as if it needed any affirming, Michael Bloomberg's role as a preeminent political advocate for gun control at the national level.
But during his visit to City Hall today, Vice President Joe Biden underscored the uniqueness of the position that Bloomberg has come to occupy through his aggressive use of his platform, and personal fortune, to push for tighter regulation of guns.
"Let me begin by saying there has been no support that has been more consequential than the support coming from Mayor Bloomberg," said Biden today, standing beside the independent-registered mayor in the Blue Room in City Hall, following Bloomberg's introductory remarks. "It has been immense. And it is organized, it is committed and it is consequential."
Bloomberg's final term in office expires at the end of the year, but he has suggested that he's only going to become more active, and spend more money, on gun control once he leaves office.
"We believe that we have a responsibility to help free our country from the gun violence that takes lives and breaks hearts every single day all year round," Bloomberg said at today's press event.
Following the Newtown massacre of what Biden described as 20 "beautiful little babies," the sorts of gun control measures Bloomberg has been calling for were taken up by the White House a functionally dormant, overwhelmingly Democratic pro-gun control segment of Congress. But it's still not clear whether any meaningful legislation will make it out of the Democratic-held Senate, let alone the Republican-controlled House.
One bill the Senate will consider this month increases penalties on straw purchasing and may include a tighter background check system, but it will not include an assault weapons ban.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid says that's because an assault weapons ban stands no chance of winning 60 votes. (He will nevertheless allow the Senate to consider it as an amendment.)
"Three months ago a deranged man walked into Sandy Hook Elementary School with a weapon of war … and that weapon of war has no place on American streets," said Biden today. "And taking it off American streets has no impact on one's constitutional right to own a weapon."
He also renewed his call for a limit on the size of ammunition magazines.
"Think about how many of these children or teachers may be alive today had he had to reload three times as many times as he did," said Biden.
"It must be awful, being in public office, and concluding that even though you might believe you should take action that you can't take action because of the political consequence you face," he continued. "What a heck of a way to make a living."
After Biden spoke, some family members of the Newtown victims gave brief remarks.
Among them was Neil Heslin, who lost his first-grade son Jesse.
"Quite honestly, I'm really ashamed to see that Congress doesn't have the guts to stand up and make a change and put a ban on these type of weapons," Heslin said.
The event wrapped up shortly thereafter. Biden hugged the family members, while Bloomberg stood patiently off to one side. No one stuck around to take questions from the press.
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