NEW YORK—Mayor Bloomberg was incensed Thursday in the wake of a failed federal bill that would have made it harder for criminals and people with mental illnesses to get firearms.
“For those who didn’t focus on what is right and focused on their personal political interest, I don’t think they could be more wrong,” said Bloomberg during a question and answer session with the media in New York City.
Pointing out that the defeated congressional gun legislation could have made an enormous difference in the number of gun-related deaths every year, he applauded those who did support the measure.
“These are people who really looked at what society needs and voted the right way,” he said of those who voted in favor of the bill. “They did it because they knew it was right.”
Bloomberg, who is co-chair of the more than 900-member group Mayors Against Illegal Guns, said that in the United States in the course of one year, 31,000 people fall victim to handgun violence, with 12,000 murdered and 19,000 committing suicide.
“Just think of the number of families that will be grieving, and the tragedy of losing those people,” said Bloomberg, adding that the tragedies repeat every year.
The response from Bloomberg and other supporters of the legislation has been unusually strong.
In a statement published Wednesday, Mayors Against Illegal Guns called the vote “a damning indictment of the stranglehold that special interests have on Washington.” The group also said that senators turned their backs on the 90 percent of Americans who were in support of the legislation.
“These senators made their decision based on political fear and on cold calculations about the money of special interests like the National Rifle Association, which in the last election cycle spent around $25 million on contributions, lobbying and outside spending,” wrote Gabrielle Giffords in a New York Times op-ed. Giffords a former Democratic representative was shot in the head at a town hall meeting in Arizona.
“I’m furious. I will not rest until we have righted the wrong these senators have done, and until we have changed our laws so we can look parents in the face and say: ‘We are trying to keep your children safe,’” she continued.
Bloomberg also had a stern warning for politicians opposed to the legislation who will seek re-election.
“Wait until next November and a year from now when people who run against them point out how many people died since they voted not to support sensible rules,” said Bloomberg.
He also predicted that many advocacy groups will come together in a grass-roots effort to continue to push for gun reform.
“Condone murder or don’t,” said Bloomberg. “It is not any more complex than that.”