Bloomberg, Watts Team Up to Demand Tougher Gun Control Measures

Tuesday, 24 Dec 2013 12:44 PM

By Drew MacKenzie

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Outgoing New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has joined forces with gun control crusader Shannon Watts to urge Congress to enact tougher measures to prevent the spread of illegal firearms.

Bloomberg's organization Mayors Against Illegal Guns and Watts' group Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense have combined to create "a nationwide movement" of Americans to put pressure on lawmakers for expanded background checks on all gun purchases.

In a joint editorial in Politico Magazine, the pair wrote Monday that gun buyers with "something to hide" are turning to unlicensed "private sellers" over the Internet and to gun show dealers who aren't required to conduct background checks.

"It’s like offering two lines at the airport, one with security and one with none," the two said about the nation's background check laws. "Criminals are naturally choosing the latter. And Americans are dying as a result."

They pointed out that due to the vast power of the gun lobby in Washington it's "an uphill battle" in closing dangerous loopholes in the background check system and in strengthening gun control enforcement.

"For decades, the gun lobby has had the field to itself, fear-mongering to raise money and sell firearms, and claiming any measure to keep guns out of the hands of criminals is a step on the way to gun confiscation, which is of course nonsense," Bloomberg and Watts wrote. "Those falsehoods have undermined public safety for generations, allowing millions of innocent Americans to be murdered."

Mayors Against Illegal Guns was formed in 2006 with a group of 15 mayors creating a bipartisan coalition for more gun control. The organization now has more than 1,000 mayors in its membership and claims 1.5 million supporters.

Moms Demand Action was started by Watts as a grassroots campaign on Facebook on Dec. 15, 2012, a day after the Sandy Hook school massacre in Newtown, Conn. A year later, the group has 130,000 active members and chapters in all 50 states.

"The passion of moms who think every day about the safety of their children, families and neighborhoods helped make the group a prominent voice in the gun debate," said Bloomberg and Watts. "To get Congress to listen, we must unite supporters from every walk of life. And that is why our two organizations are merging."

The editorial noted that on average 33 Americans are murdered every day with guns, mostly with illegal firearms. But the two also pointed out that New York has become the nation's safest big city, with murder rates down to record lows, partially because of a crackdown on illegal guns.

"But 90 percent of guns recovered at New York crime scenes come from out of state, mostly from states that don’t require background checks on all gun purchases," the two wrote. "Clearly, this is a national problem that requires national action."

They added, "Combining the legal and policy expertise of mayors with the passion and determination of moms will create a force for change that political leaders will not be able to ignore."

Bloomberg leaves office on December 31st; Democrat Bill de Blasio will be taking over as the city's chief executive.

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