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Saturday, December 3, 2016

New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg is escalating his push for new gun safety laws, as popular measures such as universal background checks for gun buyers and an assault weapons ban appear to be stalling in Congress.

Mayor Bloomberg — who co-chairs Mayors Against Illegal Guns, and founded Independence USA PAC to serve as a political counterweight to the National Rifle Association — warned during a Sunday morning appearance on NBC’s Meet the Press that there would be political consequences for those who oppose reforming gun laws.

“If 90 percent of the public want something, and their representatives vote against that, common sense says they are going to have a price to pay for that,” Bloomberg told host David Gregory in response to a question on background checks. “The public is going to eventually wake up and say, ‘I want to put in office somebody that will do the things that I think are necessary for this country.’ That’s what democracy is all about.”

Bloomberg acknowledged that the assault weapons ban would be a tougher sell, saying “I don’t think we should give up on the assault weapons ban, but clearly it is a more difficult issue for a lot of people.” Still, he pledged to do everything possible to reduce gun violence.

“If I can do that by spending some money, and taking the NRA from being the only voice to being one of the voices, so the public can really understand the issues, then I think my money will be well spent and I think I have an obligation to do that,” Bloomberg said.

On Monday, Mayors Against Illegal Guns stepped up that spending. The group launched a $12 million ad buy pushing senators to vote for universal background checks.

According to PBS Newshour, the ads will target senators Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), Dan Coats (R-IN), Susan Collins (R-ME), Joe Donnelly (D-IN), Jeff Flake (R-AZ), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Kay Hagan (D-NC), Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), Dean Heller (R-NV), Johnny Isakson (R-GA), Mary Landrieu (D-LA), Mark Pryor (D-AR), Rob Portman (R-OH), and Pat Toomey (R-PA).

Greg Sargent reports that three of Bloomberg’s targets — Donnelly, Hagan, and Heitkamp — have signaled that they are open to a deal on background checks. While their support would be a huge positive for reform advocates like Bloomberg, it may not be enough; unless a few Republicans can be persuaded to support the measure, then it will likely die on the vine — despite being supported by the overwhelming majority of the public.

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