There’s a storm in the proverbial tea cup surrounding a story about Michael Bloomberg and the National Rifle Association (NRA) that was due to be published by Rolling Stone on Monday, July 14 but was posted early then yanked offline. It has stirred not a little controversy as the Republican former Mayor of New York City bashes the NRA and refers to some conservative areas of Colorado as being so rural they don’t have roads. Google has a cached version of the article from which this excerpt is sourced:
Tell me why you’re still fighting for better gun laws even after leaving office as mayor.
I and the foundation are trying to save lives. Particularly, I want the foundation to focus on things that other people aren’t focusing on. So we took on smoking. We’re working on obesity. Polio, [Bill] Gates is really the spearhead, but we’ve given him a lot of money. Malaria, building a better mosquito. Traffic deaths. Maternal health in Tanzania.
Guns are another one of those things that nobody was willing to take on. 12,000 people get killed with handguns every single year; 19,000 people commit suicide with handguns. And we’re the only country with this problem. That’s why we took this on. But the NRA, and even more right-wing organizations like Gun Owners of America, are so against anything because [they think] it’s a slippery slope. I think if there was an issue of “Could you have your own nuclear bomb?” they might gulp, but they might say, “We should not have a law against that.” In fact, the NRA testified a number of years ago in favor of background checks. They really did! But the trouble is, the NRA is losing numbers to the more right-wing groups, so they can’t cave.
Has running Mayors Against Illegal Guns for the last eight years made you more or less optimistic about this issue?
Well, there are 16 states that already have [background checks], and they’re populated states. So there’s a big chunk of the country that’s already protected by these laws. And, yeah, you’re not going to get everybody until you get to a tipping point, but the fact that you save a lot of lives is not something to sneer at. And the fact that you can’t save every life is not an argument not to try to save any lives.
In Colorado, we got a law passed. The NRA went after two or three state Senators in a part of Colorado where I don’t think there’s roads. It’s as far rural as you can get. And, yes, they lost recall elections. I’m sorry for that. We tried to help ’em. But the bottom line is, the law is on the books, and being enforced. You can get depressed about the progress, but on the other hand, you’re saving a lot of lives.
Isn’t it dispiriting that Congress was unable to pass national background checks even after Sandy Hook?
I think it’s naïve to think one story in the paper, one massacre, where the press gets in high dudgeon and says, “Everybody reads the story, everybody cares” – there’s not a lot of evidence that that’s true. It’s great theater, but for most people it doesn’t affect their lives…
[more from cached version of the article]
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