New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg has apparently pulled back from his statement Monday that police officers across the nation should threaten to go "on strike" to press for more restrictions on armor-piercing bullets.
Speaking on CNN Monday, Bloomberg took an unusual position for a leader of the largest municipal police force in America, arguing that cops across the country should band together in the wake of the mass murder in Aurora, Colo., to protest weak gun laws.
"I don't understand why the police officers across this country don't stand up collectively and say we're going to go on strike," Bloomberg told Piers Morgan. "'We're not going to protect you unless you, the public, through your legislature, do what's required to keep us safe.'"
According to a tweet from New York Times reporter Kate Taylor, Bloomberg tried to walk that statement back on Tuesday. "I don’t mean literally go on strike," Bloomberg said, according to Taylor. "In fact in New York they can’t go on strike -- there’s a law against it."
Bloomberg is a co-founder of Mayors Against Illegal Guns, a national group of 600 mayors who support strong gun laws, and an outspoken critic of the gun lobby. Although his aligning with police officers on gun control is to be expected, Bloomberg's advocacy for what sounds like a general strike among cops is well outside the norm for a sitting mayor of New York City.
James Holmes, the alleged shooter who killed 12 and injured dozens of others in the Colorado shooting early last Friday, used a semi-automatic AR-15 rifle, a 12-guage pump shotgun and a semi-automatic pistol, according to authorities. He amassed much of his arsenal through the internet in the months leading up to the mass killing, including 3,000 rounds of ammunition for the handgun and another 3,000 rounds for the semi-automatic rifle.
Bloomberg, like many other politicians, has argued that Holmes should not have had access to much of the weaponry he stockpiled.
"Police officers want to go home to their families," Bloomberg said. "And we're doing everything we can to make their job more difficult, but more importantly, more dangerous, by leaving guns in the hands of people who shouldn't have them and letting people who have those guns buy things like armor-piercing bullets."
Writing on the pro-labor site We Party Patriots, blogger Steve Cooper points out that Bloomberg's strike comments are surprising, given that he's often been confrontational with organized labor.
"Bloomberg also a history of rejecting a worker’s right to strike and of trying to break unions so he can easily rid himself of checks and balances," Cooper writes. "When he tried to reform NYC’s public education system, Bloomberg consistently stepped on union toes. He also recently waged war on the city’s prevailing wage but, luckily, was rebuffed."
In criticizing Bloomberg's comments, Mike Riggs, writing at Reason.com, points out that far more civilians are killed by police officers than vice-versa. "Maybe Bloomberg is right," Riggs writes. "Maybe America's cops should go on strike."
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