Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg hopes last weekend's shooting rampage in California will give more momentum to the ongoing debate for gun restrictions.
"We've had shootings on campus and at the same time, some states are passing laws to explicitly let people carry on campuses," Bloomberg told NBC "Meet the Press" host David Gregory Sunday. "I don't know what you were like when you were in college, but my recollection of college 50 years ago is kids just should not have guns on campus."
But the real problem, Bloomberg said, is that "guns are getting into the hands of criminals, people with psychiatric problems as this guy obviously did, and minors, and we've got to find some ways to stop that."
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Bloomberg, who is spending some $50 million of his own money fighting with the National Rifle Association for gun control laws, admitted to the difficulty of keeping guns out of the hands of people like the Isla Vista killer, Elliot Rodger, whose family had reported, suffered from mental illness.
"Well, you always have to have due process, and you can't just go incarcerate people," said Bloomberg. "Psychiatrists will tell you they can't predict which people with mental illness will get a gun and start killing people, but you want to have laws that let you get a temporary restraining order."
But even though Rodger's parents knew he had problems, the police could not arrest him after interviewing him and finding him lucid.
"Now, you don't want cops to be able to go and grab somebody off the street and institutionalize them," said Bloomberg. "We don't have that thing that a cop could use right away."
In addition, states don't have databases of who is mentally ill, Bloomberg pointed out.
"It's hard to do because if some people go to their private doctor and how do you find out about it?" said Bloomberg. "Nobody says any law is going to solve all the problems. What we do know is a lot of people with mental illness do things that are destructive to themselves and to others."
The country also has a problem with domestic violence, Bloomberg said, but in the 16-odd states that have background checks for gun shows and sales, incidents of domestic violence and police shootings are down 40 percent, and suicides with guns are down 50 percent.
"It works," said Bloomberg. "It's not perfect, but it gets you there."
And while Gregory said that Bloomberg wants to take on the NRA politically, the former mayor said what he really wants to do is make sure the public "gets together, tells the congress and their state legislatures we want reasonable background checks."
Further, Bloomberg said, he and other gun advocates don't want to end the second amendment, but rather that the people who don't have guns "don't get guns."
Meanwhile, politicians tend to drive their positions on gun control by choosing to win popular opinion.
"Maybe I'm too cynical but I think it's all driven by the politics of election and re-election," said Bloomberg. "If those people that vote think that the public wants one thing and that it will influence their re-electability, they'll go that way, and if they think there's another single issue advocacy group that's not supported by the vast bulk of the public but has an enormous clout at the polling booth where you get people to come and you fund ads and that sort of thing, they'll vote the other way."
Bloomberg said his initiative is about making sure people tell their congressman how they think.
"I think every one of those in the federal government and legislature, the Senate and the House, should watch the video of this father [of 20-year-old-old Isla Vista shooting victim Christopher Martinez] .the other day, saying "no more."
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