Now that he’s out of office, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is stepping up his efforts to battle the National Rifle Association and expand gun control laws.
Bloomberg detailed his plans in an interview with the New York Times published Monday — in which he predicted his crusades against guns, smoking, and obesity would serve him well in the afterlife.
“I am telling you if there is a God, when I get to heaven I’m not stopping to be interviewed. I am heading straight in. I have earned my place in heaven. It’s not even close,” Bloomberg said.
Bloomberg is prepared to spend $US50 million this year alone on his gun control push, The New York Times’ Jeremy Peters reports.
According to the report, he will use the investment to build “a nationwide grass-roots network to motivate voters who feel strongly about curbing gun violence.” Peters wrote that Bloomberg “tossed out the $US50 million figure out as if he were describing the tip he left on a restaurant check” and hinted he could spend even more in his battle against the NRA.
“I put $US50 million this year, last year into coal, $US53 million into oceans,” Bloomberg said referencing money he’s spent on environmental initiatives. “Certainly a number like that, $US50 million. Let’s see what happens.”
The NRA did not immediately respond to a request for comment about Bloomberg’s plans.
Bloomberg also dismissed the idea his reputation as the “nanny” mayor of a big city who has pushed bans on smoking and sugary drinks in addition to gun control might not make him the ideal face of a gun control campaign that will need to change hearts and minds in red states.
“I don’t know what your perception is of our reputation, and mine, the name Bloomberg around the country,” he said noting that in his travels he regularly hears people tell him, “You’re a rock star” and “people yelling out of cabs, ‘Hey, way to go!'”
Under his plan, Bloomberg would bring two gun-focused groups he currently funds — Mayors Against Illegal Guns and Mums Demand Action for Gun Sense in America — under one umbrella group called Everytown for Gun Safety. It will focus in the short term on legislation to expand background checks on gun buyers.
The group’s focus will be on field operations, something the NRA and other pro-gun groups have mastered. The focus of their outreach will be on women — mothers, in particular — who they feel can be swayed on the gun issue.
The topic of gun violence has largely faded from the national scene. It has been almost a year since the Senate failed to pass a bill that would have expanded background checks, and there has been no renewed momentum. That defeat was widely seen as a loss for Bloomberg, who spent over $US10 million on his gun control campaign prior to the bill’s failure. Supporters tout progress on the background check issue at the state level.
Some groups hinted at plans to punish senators who voted against the background check bill last year. When they did, some Democrats and liberals argued it would be counterproductive, since pushing red-state Democrats to the left on gun issues could lose the party the Senate.
Bloomberg doesn’t seem to care about causing difficulties for Democrats, saying his focus is squarely on the gun fight.
“You can tell me all you want that the Republicans would be worse in the Senate than the Democrats,” he said. “Maybe they would. But that’s not what we’re talking about here.”
This post was updated at 11:30 p.m. ET.
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