On Monday, Bloomberg will headline a summit on guns at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, another opportunity for the outspoken mayor to deliver an indictment of Washington’s failure to do anything meaningful on the issue. Although the Democrat-turned-Republican-
turned-independent says he practices a “noble and practical” brand of post-partisan politics, when it comes to gun laws, he is more aligned with one party than the other.
Democrats in the White House and in Congress are working closely with his advocacy group, Mayors Against Illegal Guns, to enact his gun-control agenda. And Republicans, especially those in the House, don’t seem the least bit interested.
“Oh sure,” Bloomberg said, he would blame Republicans if they blocked new gun-control legislation in the House. “But having said that, I won’t let the Democrats off the hook.” He added that when Democrats “were in power, they didn’t do it,” and President Obama “campaigned on an assault-weapons ban and he didn’t do it, so spare me.”
It’s not clear how much longer the mayor’s idiosyncratic who-needs-political-parties approach will apply when it comes to gun control.
After the massacre of schoolchildren in Newtown, Conn., a collection of progressive groups and Democratic lawmakers, including, most recently, former Arizona congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, have aggressively entered the debate. (“And so we’re not going to be the star,” Bloomberg said. “My interest is in having this done. I don’t need to get credit for it.”) That still leaves Bloomberg with a significant distinction: He’s a multibillionaire who can immediately reshape the landscape of gun politics with his money. His hope is that he can break the GOP of what he sees as its National Rifle Association addiction by using his considerable resources to promote gun laws with which many NRA members will agree.
“I’m going to prove a counterweight” to the NRA, said Bloomberg, who spent about $10 million in five congressional and statewide races against NRA-
supported candidates last year, winning four of those contests. “It seemed effective, and I’m certainly going to take a good, hard look at next time. . . . You can organize people, I can write checks.”
Andrew Arulanandam, a spokesman for the NRA, said that although there were “billions of reasons to take him seriously,” the organization viewed Bloomberg’s handpicked races as an attempt to “manufacture a story line.” The NRA, he said, “played in hundreds of races at the federal level and thousands of races at the state legislative level.” As far as Bloomberg’s effort to peel off Republicans, Arulanandam did not seem particularly worried. “He is free to spend his money or waste it however he sees fit,” the spokesman said.