After a gunman killed a dozen people and injured scores more at a movie theater in suburban Colorado last night, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg declared that he’s had enough. And although both President Barack Obama and presidential hopeful Mitt Romney issued statements offering condolences for the victims’ families, the mayor sharply criticized them for not offering specific policy proposals to deal with the fundamental issue at hand.
“You know, soothing words are nice, but maybe it’s time that the two people who want to be President of the United States stand up and tell us what they are going to do about it, because this is obviously a problem across the country,” Mr. Bloomberg said on his weekly appearance on John Gambling’s radio show this morning. “And everybody always says, ‘Isn’t it tragic,’ and you know, we look for was the guy, as you said, maybe trying to recreate Batman. I mean, there are so many murders with guns every day, it’s just got to stop. And instead of the two people – President Obama and Governor Romney – talking in broad things about they want to make the world a better place, okay, tell us how.”
To further emphasize his point, Mr. Bloomberg’s office, which has made combating gun violence one of its top priorities, sent out a transcript of his interview, available below:
John Gambling: Mayor Bloomberg, good morning.
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg: Good morning, John.
Gambling: Nice to see you as always. That deal in Aurora, just another horrific unexplainable mass murder.
Mayor Bloomberg: You know, soothing words are nice, but maybe it’s time that the two people who want to be President of the United States stand up and tell us what they are going to do about it, because this is obviously a problem across the country. And everybody always says, ‘Isn’t it tragic,’ and you know, we look for was the guy, as you said, maybe trying to recreate Batman. I mean, there are so many murders with guns every day, it’s just got to stop. And instead of the two people – President Obama and Governor Romney – talking in broad things about they want to make the world a better place, okay, tell us how. And this is a real problem. No matter where you stand on the Second Amendment, no matter where you stand on guns, we have a right to hear from both of them concretely, not just in generalities – specifically what are they going to do about guns? I can tell you what we do here in New York. The State Legislature passed the toughest gun laws – some states may say no. That’s okay, what do you want to do? And maybe every Governor should stand up. But in the end, it is really the leadership at a national level, which is whoever is going to be President of the United States starting next January 1st – what are they going to do about guns?
Gambling: The reality is you know that will not happen.
Mayor Bloomberg: Well, it’ll happen, John, if it was one of your kids yesterday in Aurora, maybe you’d stand up and say I’m not going to take this anymore. Maybe you get your friends and everything. And it’s not a question of what you think is right here. Here’s the issue: You want to be President? Okay, I said the other day, forget about stuff- you want to fix the economy? Tell us how you’re going to fix the economy, and tell us in a practical sense because the President has to deal with Congress, the President has to do things consistent with what the courts will allow. But just going and talking in generalities unfortunately doesn’t give the public the information they need to make an informed decision.
Gambling: Don’t you think that’s true again because the public doesn’t really know what it wants to hear? Doesn’t really care enough about that? And that the candidate has to play to the base because it’s the only way he or she is going to get elected, and therefor if he doesn’t get elected he can’t do anything-
Mayor Bloomberg: Well, it’s like saying, you know, I can be dishonest because I won’t get elected and then I can’t be honest. I mean, come on. You know, but number one, there’s something more important than getting elected, and that’s standing up and saying what you think is right. I mean, I listen to this all the time, everything – oh, it’s getting reelected. Getting reelected or elected isn’t everything. How do you- you’ve got to look your family in the eye, you’ve got to look yourself in the mirror and say this is what I really believe and this is what I’ll do if I get elected. And if it sells it sells, and if it doesn’t sell it doesn’t sell. And you know, you say people don’t know. Yeah, I think that’s fair. People don’t have a solution, or everybody has a different solution. But that’s why we elect governors and presidents and legislators to lead from the front, to come up with solutions, to tell us what those solutions they think are. Some will work, some won’t, some they’ll get through the Legislature, some they won’t be able to. But you still- if we just say, ‘Well, there’s nothing you can do about it.’ Think about where we’re going. This country is in very big trouble, and we need the two presidential candidates to tell us how they’re going to take us out of this. We used to be here in New York in the top ten in education in every standard. We’re lucky to be in the top 50. We used to have all the new jobs created here in this country. Everybody talks about jobs. Tell us specifically how you’re going to do it. New York City, we have our plans – some good, some bad, some people like them, some don’t – but we’re talking about the future of the country. Tax policy – you know, they talk about, ‘I’m going to reduce everybody’s taxes,’ or, ‘I’m going to reduce taxes for the group that I think will vote for me the most.’ That’s just not the way to do it. But guns – get back to Aurora – this is killing people every day, and it’s growing and it’s not just an inner-city, east coast, west coast, big city phenomenon. Aurora is not a big city.
Mayor Bloomberg: Suburb of Denver.
Mayor Bloomberg: You know, the murder-
Gambling: 25 miles from Columbine, which I think is-
Mayor Bloomberg: The murder rate in the rural areas is just as bad if not worse than the murder rate in urban areas.
Gambling: Have you ever talked with anybody about the psychology of that? I know the gun issue, but the psychology of that. Have we become less sensitive to our neighbor?
Mayor Bloomberg: I don’t know about that. You know, I’m not a physiatrist or a psychologist. I can tell you I don’t think there’s any other developed country in the world that has remotely the problem we have. There’s no other place that allows- we have more guns than people in this country. Every place else, if there are murders they’re generally not done with guns – not generally, a lot more are not done with guns. And everybody’s got problems with crime, and you know, that’s the real world. God didn’t make everybody perfect. But this is just- you know, and we can talk about it on the talk shows, we can wring our hands and say it’s terrible. You know, ‘I need more guns to protect myself.’ And that strategy doesn’t work. That’s like saying incarcerate more people and you’ll reduce crime rate. In New York City, we’ve reduced the incarceration- the number of people incarcerated by over a third and crime keeps coming down. Because when you send somebody to jail – particularly a kid – all they do is learn how to be a worse criminal. So that’s just not a good solution. You may be able to say, ‘I’ll put her in jail and throw away the key.’ That sounds good, but it doesn’t solve the problem.
Gambling: You are talking about leadership and we are desperate for it. Desperate for it, in on some many levels.
Mayor Bloomberg: Look, almost- most of America believes that their candidate – whether it is President Obama or Governor Romney – will provide leadership. I think there’s no question about it. They each have 40 odd percent, whatever it is – 45 percent – of the electorate. The whole election is going to be about that ten percent in the middle.
Gambling: If 10 percent.
Mayor: Whatever it is.
Gambling: Whatever the number.
Mayor Bloomberg: And so most people say, ‘Well if you elect my guy, there will be leadership.’ But maybe the middle is going to demand that you tell them how. And they’re the ones that are going to decide this.