Michael Bloomberg's got, as they say in Brooklyn, cahones.
I think he deserves a medal.
But all he really wants is sensible federal regulation of firearms, and a reduction in the number of innocents who die every year as a result of the sustained assault on Americans' safety by a mercenary NRA and firearms industry.
In a muscular response, he's standing up to the gun lobby and its apologists, even running afoul of the national Democratic leadership. Of late, Bloomberg's been suggesting to New York's moneyed elite that they turn off the spigot of contributions to Democrats who helped kill gun safety legislation this year. It's impolite, it's against political wisdom -- and we hope it works.
And as of this week, the half-year anniversary of the Newtown shootings, the Bloomberg-funded organization, Mayors Against Illegal Guns, is also taking the message to the voters, nationwide.
On June 12, Mayors Against Illegal Guns announced a new 100-day road tour campaign, to let Americans know that even if Congress hid under the proverbial bed rather than stand up to the boogeyman NRA, citizens should still demand that most basic, logical protection: background checks on would-be firearms purchasers.
And there's power behind this mobilization, because polls show that seven in 10 Americans support background checks.
GUN SAFETY ROAD TOUR: NO MORE NAMES
Bloomberg's latest grassroots gun safety effort is poignantly called No More Names: The National Drive to Reduce Gun Violence tour.
Whose "names" are they talking about? The names that are on the roster of an estimated 300,000 American civilians who have died by firearm in the past decade, the 600,000 American civilians killed by guns in the past two decades. The names of the dead who are read at vigils around the country, mourning again and again, the latest victim of America's stubborn epidemic of gun violence.
A major goal of the No More Names tour is to encourage voters to persuade members of Congress of all denominations to reconsider (okay, to pass) the firearms background check that got killed in mid-April in an unconscionable case of congressional timidity.
With 30,000 firearm-related deaths every year in America, the tour won't have much trouble finding those to pay testimony to the need for commonsense firearm regulation. The actual nature of the gun death might vary: in urban areas, the statistics show that there are more homicides than suicides, and in rural communities, it's the reverse. But the preventable human tragedy that still takes about 33 lives every day has a common, lethal thread: the gun lobby-promoted saturation of American society with firearms.
(Consider: If a plague of some malicious super-bug were to have killed more than a half-million U.S. citizens in 20 years, and no other nation in the world was experiencing this epidemic, you can rest assured that Americans would have invested tens of millions of dollars of medical research for prevention, intervention, and cure. Enacting a simple background check on gun buyers is far cheaper, more efficient, and easier. The NRA says it won't work. Well, let's get some empirical evidence: enact stronger gun safety laws, including background checks, for a decade, and let's see how the gun death rates decline.)
And so, along the way, the road tour will give a platform to those on the other side of a life-altering tragedy that one might pray to never experience: gun violence. During the whistle stop tour, survivors and family members of Americans murdered by guns will speak, painting intimate images of their lost loved ones who are more that a statistic, sharing their grief, and with a "there-but-for-the-grace-of-God-go-thou" generosity, calling for what is only reasonable: comprehensive and enforceable background checks for all gun sales.
Appropriately, this grim yet hopeful tour will begin in Newtown, Conn., on Friday, June 14, which marks the six-month observation Sandy Hook Elementary School mass murder of 26 victims, including 20 elementary school children.
Among the No More Names tour spokespersons is Erica Lafferty, daughter of Sandy Hook Elementary School victim, principal Dawn Hochsprung who was posthumously awarded a Presidential Citizens Medal for her efforts to protect the children during the rampage.
So, if you hear about the No More Names tour coming to your community, pay attention and let your voice be heard. Write or call your local elected officials and tell them you want background checks and stronger gun safety regulation. Do play hardball: tell them you'll remember, come November (or whenever you vote) what they did, not what they said, to enhance your family's safety from rampant firearm violence in the aftermath of the Newtown massacre.
Gun-buyer background checks deserve another shot.
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