Bloomberg arms US gun control with $50 mn
Former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg announced plans Wednesday to spend $50 million this year on the fight to tighten gun control laws and counter America's powerful gun lobby.
Bloomberg's money will help bankroll a new campaign to reduce gun violence across the United States and the billionaire philanthropist hopes the initiative can eventually outdo the might of the National Rifle Association (NRA).
The creation of "Everytown for Gun Safety" comes after Congress failed to pass a hotly contested gun control law last year, despite a series of mass shootings that shocked the nation.
The impasse came in the face of stiff opposition by the NRA and other gun groups, which mounted a successful counter-campaign and warned members that the US government was determined to take guns away.
"This is the beginning of a major new campaign to reduce the gun violence that plagues communities across the country," said Bloomberg, who will chair Everytown for Gun Safety.
It is a coalition of Mayors Against Illegal Guns, co-founded by Bloomberg, and Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, which was set up after a 20-year-old man shot dead 20 first-grade pupils and six staff in December 2012.
It calls itself the largest gun violence prevention organization in the United States, where Bloomberg says shootings kill 86 Americans every day.
The group will press for change in Washington and bring the fight for tighter gun laws to states, corporate boards, and state and federal elections, areas where the gun lobby is strong.
It announced that it will back candidates and legislation, and raise awareness about guns in schools, domestic violence, child access to guns, suicide and the other ways that gun violence affects Americans.
Bloomberg said he plans to spend at least $50 million this year through Everytown's educational and advocacy efforts and through personal expenditures.
Events were to take place nationwide Wednesday to launch a "Gun Sense Voter" campaign and the organization hopes to raise its 1.5 million supporters to 2.5 million this year.
"This new organization will bring more people into the fight against gun violence, which affects every town in America," said Bloomberg.
John Feinblatt, president of Everytown for Gun Safety, said: "This isn't just an urban problem, or a mass shooting problem. It can, and it does, happen in every town.
"And it will take every mayor, every mom, and every one of us to persuade our policymakers that we have to do more to protect our kids and our communities."