The substance of this story was almost fit to print.
We all know Mayor Bloomberg’s stance on guns. He is a co-founder and head of Mayors Against Illegal Guns – a group of America’s most powerful metropolitan leaders that all share a very strong stance on gun control. And he’s backed his message with a treasure trove of cash that would even make Donald Trump a bit uneasy.
This is the guy who has been called a “bastard” by the NRA. This is the guy who, after what happened in Newtown, settled himself in D.C. with a lobbying effort and a half. This is the guy who has made gun control in New York City a talking point several times.
On Saturday, this sequence of events climaxed in the largest financial move by the Mayor on gun control yet: an announcement of a $12 million ad campaign, put together by his mayor-based group, in key states where senators are on the fence about the legislative package making its way through the Hill.
And, as per usual for Mr. Bloomberg, he’s already receiving a ton of flak from the usual suspects.
Upon its inception, the NRA immediately came out swinging against the Mayor for his anti-gun-toting efforts. And the irony could not be more blatant:
“What Michael Bloomberg is trying to do is … intimidate senators into not listening to constituents and instead pledge their allegiance to him and his money,” said spokesman Andrew Arulanandam.
Let us not forget the NRA’s grade system for Congressmen – an approval that is literally make or break for some elections.
“He can’t spend enough of his $27 billion to try to impose his will on the American public,” NRA chieftain Wayne LaPierre said on “Meet the Press” yesterday. “He can’t buy America.”
The annual budget for the NRA is between $200 and $250 million.
Of course, the slingshots from the Second Amendment group can be swung the exact same way towards them. For the first time seemingly ever, the NRA has an opponent that can put up a fight in cold hard cash. So the criticism stems from the now apparent fact that Mayor Bloomberg, as a political machine, has fully become the antithesis of the NRA.
But this bodes well for the controversial issue. Gun control in Washington has long been engineered (and debilitated) by a group that absolutely loathes gun control; for populist purposes, that doesn’t make much sense. In a modern, Citizens-United-cracy, two incredibly wealthy and powerful outside groups are better than one, especially if they’re on opposing teams.
And then there’s the part of personal preference on behalf of Bloomberg. We have witnessed for over a decade now a businessman-politician who will dedicate every last penny into policy fields he deems necessary. And those examples are everywhere: the bribery to get the smoking ban passed in 2002; the hundreds of thousands of dollars spent on same-sex marriage and education initiatives; the $2 million spent on a Chicago race where one candidate was strongly pro-gun; and, most recently, the frizzed-up soda ban.
The news of the huge blitz parallels the downturn of California Senator Dianne Feinstein’s long-fought-after assault ban – a reinstatement that has been tossed out of the federal gun control bill, downsized into a possible (and less probable) amendment. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid did this in order to make this bill passable in a chamber where the NRA’s strings are tight. Now, the bill has two separate puppet masters.
The varied states that will be targeted include Arkansas, Arizona, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Maine, New Hampshire, Nevada, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio and Pennsylvania.
In the words of the Illinois State Rifle Association, “Bloomberg is coming to your state. Be ready.”