NEW YORK -- A new $12 million television ad campaign from Mayors Against Illegal Guns will push senators in key states to back gun control efforts, including comprehensive background checks.
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced the ad buy Saturday – just days after Senate Democrats touted stronger background checks while acknowledging insufficient support to restore a ban on assault-style weapons to federal gun control legislation.
"These ads bring the voices of Americans – who overwhelmingly support comprehensive and enforceable background checks – into the discussion to move senators to immediately take action to prevent gun violence," Bloomberg said in a statement issued by the group he co-founded in 2006.
The two ads posted on the group's website, called "Responsible" and "Family," show a gun owner holding a rifle while sitting on the back of a pickup truck.
In one ad, the man says he'll defend the Second Amendment but adds "with rights come responsibilities." The ad then urges viewers to tell Congress to support background checks.
In the other ad, the man, a hunter, says "background checks have nothing to do with taking guns away from anyone." The man then says closing loopholes will stop criminals and the mentally ill from obtaining weapons.
The Senate is scheduled to debate federal gun control legislation next month. On March 28, the group plans for more than 100 events nationwide in support of passing gun control legislation that includes background checks.
Mayors Against Illegal Guns and other gun-control advocates frequently cite a mid-1990s study that suggests about 40 percent of U.S. gun transfers were conducted by private sellers not subject to federal background checks. Based on 2011 FBI data, the group estimates 6.6 million firearms transfers are made without a background check for the receiver.
A spokesman for Bloomberg could not immediately say if the $12 million was coming from Bloomberg or the mayor's political action committee, Independence USA. The New York Times, which first reported the ad campaign Saturday night, said Bloomberg was bankrolling the ad buy.
A spokesman for the National Rifle Association blasted Bloomberg and the new ads, saying NRA members and supporters would be calling senators directly and urging them to vote against proposed gun control legislation.
"What Michael Bloomberg is trying to do is ... intimidate senators into not listening to constituents and instead pledge their allegiance to him and his money," said spokesman Andrew Arulanandam.
Bloomberg has long supported efforts to curb gun violence, including sending New York City undercover investigators into other states to conduct straw purchases from dealers. Last month, Bloomberg's PAC poured more than $2 million into ads supporting Illinois state Rep. Robin Kelly, who won a special primary and ran partly on a platform of supporting tougher gun restrictions.
The new ads will air in 13 states the group believes are divided on gun control: Arkansas, Arizona, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Maine, New Hampshire, Nevada, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio and Pennsylvania.
Related on HuffPost:
Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas)
"I wish to God she had had an m-4 in her office, locked up so when she heard gunfire, she pulls it out ... and takes him out and takes his head off before he can kill those precious kids," Gohmert said of slain principal Dawn Hochsprung on <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/12/16/louie-gohmert-guns_n_2311379.html"><em>Fox News Sunday</em></a>. He argued that shooters often choose schools because they know people will be unarmed.
Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R)
"If people were armed, not just a police officer, but other school officials that were trained and chose to have a weapon, certainly there would be an opportunity to stop an individual trying to get into the school," he <a href="http://www.wtop.com/610/3162096/Gov-Is-it-time-to-arm-school-officials">told WTOP's "Ask the Governor" show</a> Tuesday, warning that Washington may respond to such a policy with a "knee-jerk reaction."
Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam (R) & State Sen. Frank Niceley (R)
Gov. Haslam says he will consider a Tennessee plan to secretly arm and train some teachers, <a href="http://tpmdc.talkingpointsmemo.com/2012/12/tennessee-armed-teachers.php">TPM reports</a>. The legislation will be introduced by State Sen. Frank Niceley (R) next month. "Say some madman comes in. The first person he would probably try to take out was the resource officer. But if he doesn’t know which teacher has training, then he wouldn’t know which one had [a gun]," Niceley told TPM. "These guys are obviously cowards anyway and if someone starts shooting back, they’re going to take cover, maybe go ahead and commit suicide like most of them have."
Oklahoma State Rep. Mark McCullough (R) & State Sen. Ralph Shortey (R)
State Rep. Mark McCullough (R) <a href="http://www.tulsaworld.com/news/article.aspx?subjectid=336&articleid=20121217_336_0_OKLAHO168827">told the Tulsa World</a> he plans to file legislation that would bring guns into schools, calling their absence "irresponsible." “It is incredibly irresponsible to leave our schools undefended – to allow mad men to kill dozens of innocents when we have a very simple solution available to us to prevent it," he said. "I’ve been considering this proposal for a long time. In light of the savagery on display in Connecticut, I believe it’s an idea whose time has come." Sen. Ralph Shortey (R) told the Tulsa World that teachers should carry concealed weapons at school events. "Allowing teachers and administrators with concealed-carry permits the ability to have weapons at school events would provide both a measure of security for students and a deterrent against attackers," he said.
Florida State Rep. Dennis Baxley (R)
Baxley, who once sponsored Florida's controversial Stand Your Ground law, <a href="http://politics.heraldtribune.com/2012/12/17/florida-legislator-allow-guns-in-schools/">told the Sarasota Herald-Tribune </a>that keeping guns out of schools makes them a target for attacks. “We need to be more realistic at looking at this policy," he said. "In our zealousness to protect people from harm we’ve created all these gun-free zones and what we’ve inadvertently done is we’ve made them a target. A helpless target is exactly what a deranged person is looking for where they cannot be stopped.”
Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R)
At a Tea Party event Monday night, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/12/18/rick-perry-guns-in-schools_n_2322185.html">Perry praised a Texas school system that allows some staff to carry concealed weapons to work</a> and encouraged local school districts to make their own policies.
Minnesota State Rep. Tony Cornish (R)
Cornish <a href="http://www.kdlt.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=22736&Itemid=57">plans to introduce legislation that would allow teachers to arm themselves</a>, according to the AP.
Oregon State Rep. Dennis Richardson (R)
In an email <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/12/17/oregon-state-rep-dennis-richardson-teacher-guns-stopped-connecticut-shooting_n_2317444.html?ir=Education">obtained by Gawker</a> and excerpted below, Richardson tells three superintendents that he could have saved lives had he been armed and in Sandy Hook on Friday: <blockquote>If I had been a teacher or the principal at the Sandy Hook Elementary School and if the school district did not preclude me from having access to a firearm, either by concealed carry or locked in my desk, most of the murdered children would still be alive, and the gunman would still be dead, and not by suicide. ... [O]ur children's safety depends on having a number of well-trained school employees on every campus who are prepared to defend our children and save their lives?</blockquote>
Former Education Secretary Bill Bennett
"And I'm not so sure -- and I'm sure I'll get mail for this -- I'm not so sure I wouldn't want one person in a school armed, ready for this kind of thing," Bennett, who served as education secretary under Ronald Reagan, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/12/16/bill-bennett-education-secretary-connecticut-shooting_n_2311774.html">told <em>Meet the Press</em> Sunday</a>. "The principal lunged at this guy. The school psychologist lunged at the guy. It has to be someone who's trained, responsible. But, my god, if you can prevent this kind of thing, I think you ought to."