New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has announced a $12m (£7.9m) television advert campaign to push Democrats and moderate Republicans to back new control laws in Washington.
The advert blitz across 13 US states by the Mayors Against Illegal Guns group, which is led by Mr Bloomberg, will unfold over Congress’s Easter recess and is meant to encourage lawmakers to support legislation to expand background checks when they return to Capitol Hill next month. Most Americans support tougher controls.
The law, which to the disappointment of many gun-control advocates will not include an assault-weapons ban, will come up for vote in April.
US President Barack Obama vowed to push for tighter gun-control laws in the wake of the December massacre of 20 young children at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, by a shooter using a military-style assault rifle. The law will also include new federal money for school safety and tougher penalties for gun trafficking.
The assault-weapons ban that was initially meant to be a part of the package will be considered as an amendment owing to a lack of support in the chamber, the Democratic majority leader of the Senate, Harry Reid, said last week. A spokesman for the National Rifle Association (NRA), the country’s most powerful pro-gun group, criticised Mr Bloomberg and the new adverts, accusing him of attempting to “intimidate senators”.
He said 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.
The new ads will air in 13 states the group believes are divided on gun control. Mr Bloomberg, who is one of the most prominent gun-control proponents in the US, said of the advert campaign: “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.”