The initiative's political target is the powerful pro-gun lobby,
including the National Rifle Association, that spends millions of
dollars each year to back gun-rights supporters.
Bloomberg's group, called Everytown for Gun Safety, will focus on
state and local lawmakers, corporate boards, and state and federal
elections — "fields of play formerly occupied almost solely by the
gun lobby," according to a statement.
The billionaire Bloomberg told NBC's "Today" show he did not view
his $50 million investment as a "heavy political lift."
"Thirty-one thousand Americans either get murdered or commit suicide
with illegal guns. That's the heavy lift," he said.
The staunch gun control advocate already bankrolled a $12 million
advertising campaign last year that promoted background checks and
targeted key members of the U.S. Senate.
The new initiative will focus on expanding background checks for gun
buyers at state and national levels rather than on sweeping federal
weapons bans that have been stymied in Washington.
"I think the NRA should be very afraid," said Shannon Watts, a
founder of gun control group Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in
America, which is a member of Everytown for Gun Safety.
"The gun lobby has done a good job over the last 30 years of making
a local minority afraid that people would take their guns away," she
said on a conference call.
Gun control advocates have long called for a better system of
background checks. After 12 people were killed in September at the
Washington Navy Yard, President Barack Obama said the United States
needed a better way to check whether gun buyers have mental health
The NRA, the largest U.S. lobby group for gun rights, spent $20
million in the 2012 election cycle, according to the Center for
The NRA, which claims nearly 5 million members, did not immediately
respond to a request for comment.
[to top of second column]
Bloomberg has been particularly outspoken about tightening existing
gun laws since a gunman killed 20 children and six adults at a
Newtown, Connecticut, elementary school in 2012.
The three-term New York City mayor also advocated for measures to
curb obesity, smoking and even salt content in food.
He told The New York Times he was proud of the work, which some
critics said interfered with personal choice.
"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," he told the newspaper.
Bloomberg will chair the new gun control network, which includes the
1.5 million members of existing groups Mayors Against Illegal Guns,
which he co-founded, and Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in
(Reporting by Doina Chiacu in Washington and Victoria Cavaliere in
New York; editing by Colleen Jenkins, Ellen Wulfhorst, Bernadette
Baum and Andrew Hay)
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