Today’s Meet the Press on the subject of gun violence [transcript] marked the first public meeting between Wayne LaPierre, VP of the 4.5 million member National Rifle Association and Mayor Michael Bloomberg, mayor of the 8.3 million citizens of New York City since the multiple mass killings in 2012 ending with the Sandy Hook massacre. Mayor Bloomberg is also the co-founder of Mayors Against Illegal Guns, a coalition of over 900 mayors in the United States which has the mission of targeting illegal gun sales, a problem which directly impacts crime in their cities.
In the past decade both men have seen the fruits of their opposing labor. Wayne LaPierre has seen, through his lobbying efforts a weakening of Federal and State regulations that govern gun sales – from neutering the Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms’ ability to track stolen guns, inventory the 60,000 licensed gun dealers, or even computerizing their files; to Louisiana’s current dilemma to re-arm felons, based on NRA sponsored legislation in that state last year.
At the same time, Mayor Bloomberg has, through the NYPD seen a reduction in the number of murders from 673 in 2000 to 414 in 2012 a 40% reduction. New York City’s violent crimes and major felonies in that same period dropped 46%.
In today’s confrontation, 100 days and 3,000 gun violence deaths since Sandy Hook, David Gregory asked if the momentum from Sandy Hook had been lost.
Mayor Bloomberg responded “I think when you have an issue where 90% of the public, 80% of N.R.A. members even, say that they think we should have reasonable checks before people are allowed to buy guns — they all support the Second Amendment, as do I. But there are an awful lot of people that think that this is one of the great issues of our times. We have to stop the carnage –”
Later in the program David Gregory revisited the question of background checks with guest Wayne LaPierre.
Gregory: “All right, but let me ask you about background checks, because the mayor referred to the polling. 90% of Americans want universal background checks. Here is this survey from Quinnipiac this week. Among those people who own guns, 85% support. Are you thwarting the will of the American people by standing in opposition to universal background checks?”
LaPierre: “No, not at all because here’s the thing: The whole thing, universal checks, is a dishonest premise. There’s not a bill on the Hill that provides a universal check. Criminals aren’t going to be checked. They’re not going to do this.”
While in 1999 Wayne LaPierre said in no uncertain terms “We think it’s reasonable to provide mandatory instant background checks for every sale at every gun show. No loopholes anywhere, for anyone,” Today he did a 180° flip-flop, disparaging background checks.
Put simply Wayne LaPierre believes that since criminals don’t obey laws, we should not have them. So, out with laws against robbery, murder, rape, fraud, and embezzlement after all, criminals don’t obey laws. What is the point in them?
Next, Gregory turned to influence and lobbying…
Gregory: “Will you target people, Republicans and Democrats, who do not support a weapons ban, an assault weapons ban, who do not vote for background checks — will you spend money, lots of money, to target them in 2014, in the midterm race?”
Bloomberg: “I think I have a responsibility, and I think you and all of your viewers have responsibilities, to try to make this country safer for our families and for each other. And if I can do that by spending some money and taking the N.R.A. from being the only voice to being one of the voices, so the public can really understand the issues, then I think my money would be well spent, and I think I have an obligation to do that.”
Gregory: “So you’ll spend money on ads?”
Bloomberg: “We’re starting to run ads today, or tomorrow — I think I’ve spent $12 million on running ads in ten states around the country explaining to the public what the issues are, and how the — and– urging them to call their senators if they believe that we should have gun checks that stop criminals and people with mental illnesses from getting guns. They should call their senators.”
Later in the interview LaPierre responded…
LaPierre: “Well, I mean, you just heard Mayor Bloomberg, but he’s going to find out this is a country of the people, by the people, and for the people. And he can’t spend enough of his $27 billion to try to impose his will on the American public…And he can’t buy America. He’s so reckless in terms of his comments on this whole gun issue.”
And that brings us to “imposing his will on the American people” In the 2012 election, the NRA spent $24,002,608 to “impose their will on the American people.” In 2010 they spent $13,698,359 to “impose their will on the American people.” Campaign spending sources through Open Secrets [link].
Whining about Mayor Bloomberg spending $12Million while, at the same time spending over $37Million defies logic…then again, so does the 180° flip-flop regarding background checks, and the 180° flip-flop regarding guns in schools [link].
Today’s Meet the Press provided a very good view of the two diametrically opposed philosophies. Mayor Bloomberg laid out specific goals and has shown; through historical trending that he is achieving those specific goals. Mr. LaPierre, on the other hand showed only that he is “against”…it really doesn’t matter what. And with his flip-flopping on core issues, his reliability is deeply in question. You can read the entire transcript of today’s exchange at Meet the Press or watch it below:
What seems painfully clear, Mayor Bloomberg wants to see a reduction in gun violence, Wayne LaPierre want to see continued profits for the gun industry for whom he lobbies.
McAllister is a life long liberal, environmentalist, Eagle Scout, and even gun owner – born in Harlan, Kentucky and has lived in Southern California, New York City and now resided in Lexington, Kentucky as a Systems Analyst.
You can read more of McAllister’s observations and opinions at Shoot From the Left Hip.