Can mayors make Jared Loughner the poster boy for gun control?
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg is trying to force Congress's hand on gun control, suggesting that new laws could have kept guns out of the hands of Tucson shooting suspect Jared Loughner.
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To the NRA, Bloomberg and the mayors should be working with law enforcement agencies to enforce existing laws.
“His intention is to get in front of a camera and push an agenda of gun control,” says Andrew Arulanandam, director of public affairs at the NRA in Washington. “What is noteworthy is that the NRA is the entity that conceived the national check system.”
Mr. Arulanandam says the mayor should not blame the shooting in Tucson on a lack of gun control. “There were many instances where he [Loughner] should have been flagged,” he says, “Bloomberg is scapegoating law-abiding gun owners for political purposes.”
Bloomberg going grass roots
Bloomberg and the mayors’ group are aware of the political obstacles in Congress. But they are trying to mount a grass-roots effort to sway Congress. On Monday, part of the effort involved bringing in 34 Americans who had been shot or had members of their families killed. The symbolism of the number: according to Bloomberg everyday 34 Americans are murdered with guns – most of them purchased or possessed illegally.
One of those was Omar Samaha, whose sister Reema was shot and killed at Virginia Tech. “That same gunman could still go to a gun show today and purchase guns without a check,” he says.
Many of the attendees had become gun-control activists after their children were shot. One of those is Tom Mauser, whose son Daniel was killed at Columbine, in Littleton, Colo. In 1999, he led a fight to require background checks for anyone buying a weapon at a gun show. Although the legislature refused to take up the issue, he got it on the ballot where it was approved by 70 percent of the voters.
“It showed that Americans can come together and close those kinds of loopholes,” says Mr. Mauser who symbolically wore his sons' shoes to the event.