New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg today placed partial blame on the National Rifle Association for the Connecticut elementary school massacre in which 20 children and six adults were gunned down last week.
“We’re not trying to take away your right to advance the interests of gun owners, hunters, people who want to protect themselves,” Bloomberg told “Nightline” anchor Cynthia McFadden in an interview today. “But that’s not an absolute right to encourage behavior which causes things like Connecticut. In fact, Connecticut is because of some of their actions.”
In the days after the massacre, the NRA has remained silent, only speaking up Wednesday to announce it would hold a press conference on Friday morning. But in the meantime, people with various stances on guns, from stark anti-gun advocates to Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., a pro-gun politician who famously shot a cap-and-trade bill with a rifle in his 2010 re-election ad, are clamoring for something to be done.
“I think the public has finally come to the conclusion that, what the Supreme Court said you can do is have reasonable restrictions on the right to bear arms, is something that our society finally has woken up and said, ‘We are going to do this whether you like it or not,'” Bloomberg said.
In 2007, Bloomberg was one of 50 mayors who gathered in Washington, D.C., to demand that Congress eliminate a law that restricts the ability of local police to trace criminals’ weapons. At the time, gun advocates claimed the law, which was an amendment attached to the House appropriations bill in 2003, infringed on their Second Amendment rights.
But if he had his preference, Bloomberg said he would go farther than the 1994 ban and outlaw all automatic and semi-automatic weapons and high-capacity magazines. The mayor said magazines shouldn’t be allowed to contain more than five or six rounds.
“If you haven’t hit the deer with three shots, you’re a pretty lousy shot. The deer deserves to get away,” he said.
Bloomberg said he doesn’t absolve the public, including himself, for waiting until a massive tragedy to take national action on gun control.
“I hold you and me responsible,” Bloomberg said. “We didn’t pay attention to what our legislators were doing, [the NRA] as well… we have let our society degenerate — our country degenerate to the point where we have a murder rate that you cannot compare it to other countries.”
Police say Adam Lanza, 20, entered Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., on the morning of Dec. 14, and used three firearms to kill 26 people before turning the gun on himself.
The weapons police recovered from the scene included a Bushmaster .223 semi-automatic rifle, a Glock 9-mm handgun and a Sig Sauer 9-mm handgun. A fourth weapon was found in the shooter’s car in the school parking lot.
According to the FBI Uniform Crime Report, 47,856 people were murdered in the U.S. by firearms between 2006 and 2010.
President Obama announced Wednesday that Vice President Joe Biden, who was formerly the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee and a leader on the original Federal Assault Weapons Ban in the ’90s, would lead a task force to formulate a package of gun control policy recommendations and collect proposals that will curb an “epidemic of gun violence.”
While Bloomberg, who endorsed Obama for president, praised his decision to have Biden work on a plan, the mayor took Obama to task, saying in the last four years the president has “gone in the wrong direction” on guns.
“[President Obama] signed two pieces of legislation, one which lets you carry guns in national parks where our kids play,” Bloomberg said. “And the other one, he signed a bill so that you can carry a gun on Amtrak. I assume that’s to stop the rash of train robberies, which I thought stopped in the 1800s.”
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Several politicians have also vowed to introduce new gun control legislation when Congress starts a new session in January. But Bloomberg called Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer’s proposalthis week to make greater use of the National Guard to provide more safety in schools “ridiculous.”
“You don’t want your kids to think that everybody in America is a bad person and that we are locking ourselves down and that we live like we’re in a prison,” Bloomberg said. “Our National Guard has other things to do. Putting more guns in schools, I mean, the National Guard is not the answer to everything.”