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January 19, 2013

Bloomberg urges mayors to pressure Congress

WASHINGTON — New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg wants the nation’s mayors to pressure members of Congress to support President Barack Obama’s gun violence proposals and take their cue from the hardball tactics often used by the gun lobby.

Bloomberg said in a speech Friday to the U.S. Conference of Mayors that mayors remain on the front lines and deal with gun violence on a daily basis, often comforting families of shooting victims. The billionaire said mayors need to band together and make clear that members of Congress could lose their jobs if they don’t support tougher gun laws.

“We need to tell our members of Congress that they’ve got to stand up for sensible gun laws, and if they do that, we will stand up for them, and if they don’t we will stand up for whoever runs against them. Because that’s exactly what the NRA is trying to do,” Bloomberg said.

“The NRA says, ‘You don’t support us, we’re going to make you lose your job. We’re going to support your opponent.’ Well, we can do exactly the same thing,” he said.

Bloomberg urged his fellow mayors to mobilize behind a sweeping set of proposals offered by Obama after last month’s deadly shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn. The big-city mayor, who leads Mayors Against Illegal Guns, has often used his own money to push gun-control causes.

“We need every mayor to go to their congressman and their congresswoman and their senators and say we’ve got a problem in our city, and you’re the one who is responsible if that problem continues,” Bloomberg said.

He said the National Rifle Association and members of the gun lobby’s ability to influence elections is “vastly overblown,” noting that the NRA had tried to unseat Obama during the 2012 and failed. “I think you’ll find they weren’t terribly successful at doing that,” he said, days before Obama’s Inauguration.

Obama’s plan faces uncertain prospects in Congress, where lawmakers have been hesitant to support tougher gun laws in recent years. The issue of gun control has been a major topic during the three-day meeting of the national mayors’ organization.

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