Bloomberg creates a gun-control scorecard

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Mayor Michael Bloomberg's gun control group announced this morning that it will create a scorecard to rival the one compiled by the National Rifle Association.

According to a letter sent to lawmakers, Mayors Against Illegal Guns will score members of Congress based on their votes and public statements on a broad set of gun-related issues, including background checks, concealed carry permits, assault weapons, high-capacity magazines, gun trafficking, and the strength and staffing of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.

That list rough reflects the same core criteria as the N.R.A.'s scorecard, which has proven sufficiently powerful that the N.R.A. has expanded it in recent years to include votes on Supreme Court nominations and even whether to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress.

The announcement by Bloomberg's group, which was first reported by the Washington Post, comes as lawmakers return to Washington to consider new gun laws, in what is likely to be a crucial week for several measures that were proposed after the shooting in Newtown, Connecticut.

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The scorecard is part of a long-term plan by gun rights advocates to target pro-gun legislators over the course of several cycles, a process that would be hampered, at least in the short term, if Democrats are unable to force votes on the proposed laws.

Bloomberg has already run ads in more than ten states pressuring lawmakers to support expanded background checks, and he's pledged millions of dollars from his own fortune to counterbalance the influence of the N.R.A in the future.

But more than a dozen Republicans are backing a filibuster to the gun bill, which would keep senators from going on the record with their support or opposition to the laws, making it much more difficult for groups like Bloomberg's to identify and target their opponents.

That's part of the reason Bloomberg and others have pressed for votes on measures like the assault weapons ban and extended magazine clips, even though those laws are almost certain to meet defeat.

President Obama appeared in Connecticut yesterday with the families of some Newtown victims, to demand a vote on the bills.

On Sunday, Sen. Chuck Schumer said he was optimistic the bill would at least come to the floor, thanks to the support of Republican Sen. John McCain.