New York City Michael Bloomberg called for strong legislation to crack down on gun control Sunday, dismissing the power of the nation’s largest pro-gun lobbying group as “vastly overrated.”
“We’ve got to really question whether military-style weapons with big magazines belong on the streets of America in this day and age,” Bloomberg said during an interview on NBC’s Meet The Press. ”Nobody questions the Second Amendment’s right to bear arms. But we don’t think the founding fathers had the idea that every man, woman and child could carry an assault weapon. And I think the president, through his leadership, could get a bill like that through Congress.”
“What’s the political cost?” Bloomberg added. “The NRA’s number one objective this time was to defeat Barack Obama for a second term. Last time I checked the election results, he won and he won comfortably. This myth that the NRA can destroy political careers is just not true.”
His comments come as pressure grows for federal lawmakers to take action to prevent shootings like the shooting massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School, which left 26 people dead, most of them children.
Bloomberg, who co-chairs Mayors Against Guns, has been one of the country’s most outspoken advocates for gun control. He chided Obama Friday for not exerting stronger leadership on the issue in his initial response to the Sandy Hook tragedy.
The New York Mayor doubled down on that criticism Sunday, saying that Obama should make gun control — and specifically a new federal ban on assault weapons — the first item on his legislative agenda next year.
“He’s the commander-in-chief as well as the consoler-in-chief,” Bloomberg said. ”It’s time for the president, I think, to stand up and lead and tell this country what we should do — not go to Congress and say, ‘What do you guys want to do?’ This should be his number one agenda.”
In his speech at a vigil for Sandy Hook victims Sunday night, Obama pledged to use the power of his office to take action to stop gun violence, but stopped short of offering any specific proposals.