At a press conference inside City Hall this morning, Mayor Bloomberg called on President Obama to address new gun control measures in tomorrow’s State of the Union address.
“With our country still mourning the victims of Tucson, we believe it is an opportunity for our president to make a strong pledge to fix our gun laws and shore up our background check system,” said Bloomberg, who was preceded at the podium by 34 victims of gun violence. “Because the state of our union includes the tragic reality that 34 Americans are murdered with guns every single day.”
Bloomberg said the federal government was the only entity capable of addressing the problem.
“The greatest country in the world, the greatest democracy ever created and yet, we have this carnage and our democratic system has so far been unwilling to fix it,” the mayor said. “All they’ve got to do is stand up and say this is not about the Second Amendment, this is not about your right to bear arms and hunt and have target practice as a sport, this is about plain commonsense enforcement of laws that are already on the books.”
He cited the shootings of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Bobby Kennedy in the 1960s, which led to a 1968 law restricting certain felons and known drug-abusers from purchasing weapons. “The difference is Congress has been unwilling to fix it,” he said. “Washington has got to do that and we call on the president to lead that charge the way President Johnson did.”
Gun control advocates have so far been frustrated in their attempts to drum up much of a national conversation around the issue, even in the wake of the shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and 18 others in Arizona.
Mayor Bloomberg was one of the first to hold a press conference pushing the issue in the wake of the tragedy, and today he reiterated his call to close the gun show “loophole” and to enact a bill by Long Island Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy to limit the number of rounds in a magazine to ten.
Last week, McCarthy told me that her bill–which would seek to limit the number of rounds in a magzine–was unlikely to move without the president’s firm backing.
The White House is known to take an active interest in Mayor Bloomberg’s opinions, but it’s unclear whether even he can push the president to touch such a divisive issue in a speech that aides are already touting as a centrist speech aimed above the partisan fray.
The mayor’s office just announced he’ll be on the CBS Evening News with Katie Couric tonight, to continue pressing the issue.