Billionaire Michael Bloomberg offers $50m of his own money to bankroll gun control lobby

Former Mayor of New York to take on NRA

US Editor

Michael Bloomberg, the billionaire former mayor of New York City, has vowed to plough up to $50m (£30m) of his own money into a new organisation to support political candidates favouring gun control in the US and confront the political power of the National Rifle Association.

“We’ve got to make them afraid of us,” Mr Bloomberg, who left office in January, said in an interview with The New York Times. In 2012, the NRA spent about $20m trying to influence key election races across the country, as part of its effort to smother support for gun control in Congress.

The new group, to be called Everytown for Gun Safety, will operate primarily in 15 states, some where the gun lobby is dauntingly strong, like Texas, and others where signs of a backlash against guns are stronger.

Above all, though, its mission will be to motivate Americans who may have become impatient with the country’s gun culture – particularly mothers and women – to go out and vote. Speaking on NBC News, Mr Bloomberg, 72, insisted his goal was not “gun control” as such, for example banning the sale of weapons, but seeing candidates elected who will support laws to stop the wrong people owning them – for example, through more stringent background checks at purchase.

“Nobody’s going to take anybody’s gun away,” he said. “Nobody’s going to keep you from hunting or target practice or protecting yourself. It’s just making sure that a handful of people who we all agree shouldn’t have guns don’t get their hands on them.”

While significant, Mr Bloombergs cash could at first help the NRA to galvanise its own supporters, who view the former mayor as a meddling nanny who tried to stop New Yorkers smoking and buying fizzy drinks. “He’s got the money to waste,” said Larry Pratt, leader of Gun Owners of America. “So I guess he’s free to do so. But I think he’s going to find out why his side keeps losing.”

Mr Bloomberg is already the national face of the gun-control lobby, with millions given to two existing groups – Mayors Against Illegal Guns and Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America – both of which will now be under the auspices of the new group. 

A week away from its annual national convention, this year in Indianapolis, the NRA remains a mighty force.  “They say, ‘We don’t care. We’re going to go after you’,” Mr Bloomberg said of it. “‘If you don’t vote with us we’re going to go after your kids and your grandkids and your great-grandkids. And we’re never going to stop’.”

Meanwhile, the recent record in Congress on tackling gun violence, even after the 2012 massacre at Newtown School in Connecticut, is desultory. With November’s mid-term congressional elections around the corner, Democrat leaders in the Senate have indicated they have no plans to push for even the most modest of new controls for fear it will hurt their candidates, particularly in conservative western states.

But Mr Bloomberg made clear that he was in it for the long haul. “You’ve got to work at it piece by piece,” he told the Times. “One mom and  another mom. You’ve got to wear them down until they finally say, ‘Enough.’” Just as the NRA spends its money to assist candidates that are on its side, the new group will do the same, persuading supporters of those candidates to turn out. In the past, the bulk of Mr Bloomberg’s money has gone to television advertising.

In the NBC interview, he used language straight from the NRA playbook, stressing that his group would reward candidates “who are protecting lives, and make sure that those who are trying to keep people from being protected lose elections”.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Dublin

£13676.46 - £16411.61 per annum + OTE: SThree: SThree Trainee Recruitment Cons...

Ashdown Group: Marketing or Business Graduate Opportunity - Norwich - £22,000

£18000 - £22000 per annum + training: Ashdown Group: Business and Marketing Gr...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Are you great at building rela...

Ashdown Group: Database Analyst - Birmingham - £22,000 plus benefits

£20000 - £22000 per annum + excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Application Sup...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before