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Bloomberg's Anti-Gun Bus Tour Travels A Road To Nowhere

Sunday, December 1, 2013

The nation’s self-appointed chief gun control extremist, billionaire Michael Bloomberg, didn’t have to scramble to put together a press conference after the tragedy at the Washington Navy Yard. He already had one planned. And there was no confusion about the program among the many gun control supporters who are carefully stage-managed at his events. As reported by The Washington Post, they “took their places by memory, because by now they know where to go.”

 

They’ve had plenty of practice because Bloomberg spent the summer months deploying them to no fewer than 100 press conferences all over the country. He even paid for a specially decorated bus to serve as the visual centerpiece of the tour. Every one of the events was intended to spur support for his gun control agenda on the part of local politicians, but his tour was hardly the momentum-building event he hoped it would be. In fact, it alienated his existing supporters and drove more than 50 mayors to resign from his group entirely.  

 

How did such a major investment end up yielding the precise opposite of the desired result? I have already written about the first huge mistake of the tour. Bloomberg’s main media attraction for his bus tour was the reading of a list of “victims of gun violence” to honor their memories. But at the very first stop in New Hampshire, observers were outraged when Bloomberg’s list included terrorists, cop killers, murderers and rapists. Bloomberg was forced to publicly apologize, and his massive squad of consultants started working furiously to “scrub” the list. They set about the difficult task of deciding which victims were truly victims, and, in the end, the list was reduced by half.  

 

But the damage had already been done. One of only two mayors in New Hampshire who were part of the Bloomberg group resigned in disgust, telling the Manchester Union Leader, “I don’t want to be part of something like that.”   

 

The tour continued on across the country, but the reception it received deteriorated even more as it moved into the heartland. Bloomberg’s surrogates were outnumbered by Second Amendment supporters at numerous stops. At one event in Ohio, a single Bloomberg representative was met by dozens of gun rights activists, who literally took the event over and turned it into a pro-gun rally. And in North Dakota, Bloomberg’s single mayor in the state wanted nothing to do with the tour, refusing to appear at the event in person and going so far as to question the Bloomberg agenda. He told the media he was “not an active member” and had doubts about Bloomberg’s objectives, asking rhetorically, “Is it a problem here in North Dakota? I don’t think so.”    

 

Other mayors were not as circumspect in voicing their discontent. Mayor Bob Scott of Sioux City, Iowa, said “They’re not just against illegal guns, they’re against all guns.” Mayor Patricia Shontz of Madeira Beach, Fla., said the group is “attempting to erode all gun ownership, not just illegal guns. This is gun control, not crime prevention.” And Mayor Keith Hoffman of East Berlin, Ohio, alluded to the complaint of many mayors who did not deliberately join the group, but merely signed a vague statement about reducing crime, then later found themselves listed as members. He said, “It was a mistake, really … they swindle you in and then put your name on the list.”  

 

That’s the track record of the Bloomberg bus tour, and Capitol Hill was its final stop. When the bus appeared in the nation’s capital, it had been only three days since a deranged madman illegally smuggled a shotgun into the Washington Navy Yard. The perpetrator set about on a random pattern of destruction in the largely unguarded complex and went unchecked for nearly half an hour. SWAT teams outside were ordered not to intercede and dozens of panicked employees, military and civilian alike, were left to their own devices in a facility where only a scant few security officers were authorized to carry firearms.  

 

In the aftermath, Bloomberg’s fellow gun control supporters railed about a non-existent AR-15 and vowed to make the same background check system that the perpetrator had cleared when purchasing the shotgun he used in the attack apply to even more purchasers. Despite a long history of mental illness that was well-known to authorities, firearm-related incidents that had led to police investigations and a record of misconduct during his prior military service, the perpetrator had never undergone the sort of mental healthcommitment or adjudication that would have resulted in his name being added to the database that is checked when aperson purchases a firearm from a dealer. Indeed, these red flags didn’t even affect the security clearance he needed to work as a military contractor, which requires a far more extensive background check than that for individual purchasers of firearms. In other words, Bloomberg wants to cast a net full of holes even further.  

 

So it comes as no surprise that The Washington Post described the end of the Bloomberg event by saying, “Soon, all that remained was one person at the lectern … but there was no one left to hear him.”  Indeed, the louder Bloomberg shouts his nonsensical rhetoric, the fewer remain willing to listen.  

Chris W. Cox

BY Chris W. Cox

Former NRA-ILA Executive Director

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Chris W. Cox served as the executive director of the Institute for Legislative Action, the political and lobbying arm of NRA, until 2019. As NRA’s principal political strategist, Cox oversaw eight NRA-ILA divisions: Federal Affairs; State & Local Affairs; Public Affairs; Grassroots; Finance; Research & Information; Conservation, Wildlife & Natural Resources; and Office of Legislative Counsel. Cox also serves as chairman of NRA’s Political Victory Fund (NRA-PVF), the Association’s political action committee; president of the NRA Freedom Action Foundation (NRA-FAF), which focuses on non-partisan voter registration and citizen education; and chairman of NRA Country, an effort to bring country music artists together with NRA members in support of our Second Amendment freedoms and hunting heritage.

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Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the "lobbying" arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.