Former New York City mayor and very, very rich man Michael Bloomberg plans to take on the National Rifle Association and other Second Amendment advocates by forming and financing a new organization focused on gun control. He’s pledged at least $50 million to the effort.
From The New York Times:
The plans call for a restructuring of the gun control groups he funds, Mayors Against Illegal Guns and Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. They will be brought under one new umbrella group called Everytown for Gun Safety.
The strategy will focus not on sweeping federal restrictions to ban certain weapons, but instead will seek to expand the background check system for gun buyers both at the state and national levels.
Bloomberg told the Times that this new group will try to use the NRA’s own tactics against them, penalizing lawmakers whose stances on gun rights differ from the organization’s. “We’ve got to make them afraid of us,” is how he put it.
The former mayor also said that the effort will deviate from the standard playbook for gun control advocates, throwing less money into television campaigns and more money into field operations to drive single-issue voters, focusing primarily on female voters. The group will initially focus on 15 states, including Colorado, Washington, Texas, Montana, and Indiana.
The idea of Bloomberg throwing $50 million behind gun control could do a lot to even the scales—gun control lobbyists have long lacked benefactors with deep pockets like those on the opposing side. But Bloomberg faces a big liability: himself. He might not be the right face for the organization. Here’s how Bloomberg describes coming up with the $50 million budget:
“I put $50 million this year, last year into coal, $53 million into oceans,” he said with a shrug, describing his clean energy and sustainable fishing initiatives. “Certainly a number like that, $50 million. Let’s see what happens.”
$50 million: a mere bag of shells. Let’s see what happens! And Bloomberg’s not particularly humble about his philanthropy. In his own words:
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.