As developments emerge about an Aurora, Colo. shooting that left at least 12 dead and 50 injured, Mayor Michael Bloomberg — long a staunch advocate of gun control — has slammed both Barack Obama and Mitt Romney for failing to adequately address firearms issues.
On the “The John Gambling Show with Mayor Mike,” Bloomberg said this morning: “You know, soothing words are nice, but maybe it’s time that the two people who want to be President of the United States stand up and tell us what they are going to do about it, because this is obviously a problem across the country.”
Bloomberg’s words come as both President Obama and G.O.P Contender Mitt Romney released statements expressing their condolences, with Barack saying:
“Michelle and I are shocked and saddened by the horrific and tragic shooting in Colorado. Federal and local law enforcement are still responding, and my administration will do everything that we can to support the people of Aurora in this extraordinarily difficult time. We are committed to bringing whoever was responsible to justice, ensuring the safety of our people, and caring for those who have been wounded.”
“Ann and I are deeply saddened by the news of the senseless violence that took the lives of 15 people in Colorado and injured dozens more…We are praying for the families and loved ones of the victims during this time of deep shock and immense grief. We expect that the person responsible for this terrible crime will be quickly brought to justice.”
Bloomberg, however, directly lambasted both presidential candidates as lacking leadership on gun control, saying: “Everybody always says, ‘Isn’t it tragic,’ and you know, we look for was the guy, as you said, maybe trying to recreate Batman. I mean, there are so many murders with guns every day, it’s just got to stop. And instead of the two people — President Obama and Governor Romney – talking in broad things about they want to make the world a better place, okay, tell us how. And this is a real problem.”
“No matter where you stand on the Second Amendment, no matter where you stand on guns, we have a right to hear from both of them concretely, not just in generalities — specifically what are they going to do about guns? I can tell you what we do here in New York. The State Legislature passed the toughest gun laws — some states may say no. That’s okay, what do you want to do? And maybe every Governor should stand up. But in the end, it is really the leadership at a national level, which is whoever is going to be President of the United States starting next January 1st — what are they going to do about guns?”
Gambling expressed cynicism that any change would take place.
Bloomberg, however, insisted that reform could happen if enough people were to mobilize in favor of tougher controls, saying: “It’ll happen, John, if it was one of your kids yesterday in Aurora, maybe you’d stand up and say I’m not going to take this anymore. Maybe you get your friends and everything.”
Again, Gambling shot back with skepticism, asking: “Don’t you think that’s true again because the public doesn’t really know what it wants to hear? Doesn’t really care enough about that? And that the candidate has to play to the base because it’s the only way he or she is going to get elected, and therefor if he doesn’t get elected he can’t do anything?”
Bloomberg then launched into a discussion of electability and how that doesn’t relate to integrity or good policies.
“It’s like saying, you know, I can be dishonest because I won’t get elected and then I can’t be honest. I mean, come on. You know, but number one, there’s something more important than getting elected, and that’s standing up and saying what you think is right. I mean, I listen to this all the time, everything — oh, it’s getting reelected. Getting reelected or elected isn’t everything. How do you — you’ve got to look your family in the eye, you’ve got to look yourself in the mirror and say this is what I really believe and this is what I’ll do if I get elected. And if it sells it sells, and if it doesn’t sell it doesn’t sell. And you know, you say people don’t know. Yeah, I think that’s fair.
People don’t have a solution, or everybody has a different solution. But that’s why we elect governors and presidents and legislators to lead from the front, to come up with solutions, to tell us what those solutions they think are. Some will work, some won’t, some they’ll get through the Legislature, some they won’t be able to. But you still — if we just say, ‘Well, there’s nothing you can do about it.’ Think about where we’re going. This country is in very big trouble, and we need the two presidential candidates to tell us how they’re going to take us out of this. We used to be here in New York in the top ten in education in every standard. We’re lucky to be in the top 50. We used to have all the new jobs created here in this country. Everybody talks about jobs. Tell us specifically how you’re going to do it. New York City, we have our plans — some good, some bad, some people like them, some don’t – but we’re talking about the future of the country. Tax policy – you know, they talk about, ‘I’m going to reduce everybody’s taxes,’ or, ‘I’m going to reduce taxes for the group that I think will vote for me the most.’ That’s just not the way to do it. But guns — get back to Aurora — this is killing people every day, and it’s growing and it’s not just an inner-city, East Coast, West Coast, big city phenomenon. Aurora is not a big city.”
Bloomberg then mentioned that the murder rate in rural areas is just as bad — if not worse — in rural areas, to Gambling’s reply: “Have you ever talked with anybody about the psychology of that? I know the gun issue, but the psychology of that. Have we become less sensitive to our neighbor?”
Bloomberg didn’t offer opinions on murderers’ M.O.s, but again pointed to firearm accessibility as the true culprit:
“I don’t know about that. You know, I’m not a physiatrist or a psychologist. I can tell you I don’t think there’s any other developed country in the world that has remotely the problem we have. There’s no other place that allows- we have more guns than people in this country. Every place else, if there are murders they’re generally not done with guns — not generally, a lot more are not done with guns. And everybody’s got problems with crime, and you know, that’s the real world. God didn’t make everybody perfect.
But this is just — you know, and we can talk about it on the talk shows, we can wring our hands and say it’s terrible. You know, ‘I need more guns to protect myself.’ And that strategy doesn’t work. That’s like saying incarcerate more people and you’ll reduce crime rate. In New York City, we’ve reduced the incarceration — the number of people incarcerated by over a third and crime keeps coming down. Because when you send somebody to jail — particularly a kid — all they do is learn how to be a worse criminal. So that’s just not a good solution. You may be able to say, ‘I’ll put her in jail and throw away the key.’ That sounds good, but it doesn’t solve the problem.”
Recall that Bloomberg has long been a staunch advocate of tough gun laws, founding Mayors Against Illegal Guns, and recently saying that stricter regulations would have prevented the Trayvon Martin shooting.
Check back to the Voice for developments on the Aurora incident.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on July 20, 2012