The $US50 million that billionaire and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said he would spend on his newly launched gun-control group, Everytown for Gun Safety, might be just the tip of the iceberg.
In a press call on Wednesday, Everytown for Gun Safety President John Feinblatt told Business Insider that Bloomberg could put even more of his money into the organisation.
“The mayor has always said that he will spend what needs to be spent to make Americans safer,” Feinblatt said.
These figures put the group in a position to outspend the National Rifle Association, which put $32 million into its political efforts in 2012.
At its core, Everytown for Gun Safety will unite two Bloomberg-backed gun-control groups: Mayors Against Illegal Guns and Mums Demand Action for Gun Sense in America.
Feinblatt, a longtime policy advisor to Bloomberg, said on Wednesday that it was one year ago this week that a bipartisan compromise that would have expanded background checks was defeated in the Senate. Feinblatt said Everytown for Gun Safety would keep pushing for federal legislation but would also focus on other areas that he described as having been “fields of play formerly occupied almost solely by the gun lobby.”
“Everytown will continue to push for change in Washington, but we’ll also move beyond Congress and bring the fight for common-sense gun policies to state capitals, to corporate boards, and to state and federal elections,” Feinblatt said.
While gun-control advocates have been unsuccessful in Congress, Feinblatt argued that the movement has already made progress at the state level.
“If you look at the past year, significant things have happened in the states,” he said. “We now have background-check legislation in 16 states plus the District of Columbia, and we have evidence that it works.”
Feinblatt pointed out that Bloomberg isn’t the group’s only deep-pocketed financial backer. He said Warren Buffett would be on Everytown’s advisory board and that the group will be “working with” former Morgan Stanley CEO John Mack and Huffington Post founder Kenneth Lerer.
Feinblatt said Everytown also has substantial grassroots support.
“I think it’s important to note that, yeah, Michael Bloomberg is a major donor, but we also have 34,000 other donors across the country, all of whom are supporting our efforts,” Feinblatt said. “As of today, I expect that 34,000 to increase markedly.”
While Washington won’t necessarily be Everytown’s main focus, Feinblatt said Bloomberg would be making his presence felt in the 2014 elections.
“Mayor Bloomberg couldn’t be clearer that he is going to hold people accountable if they vote against gun safety and he’s going to reward those people who don’t vote to keep Americans safer,” he said.
Disclosure: Ken Lerer is an investor in Business Insider through Lerer Ventures.
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