Countdown to 2020: Mike Bloomberg on Gun Safety

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In 2018, voters elected a wave of candidates who prioritized gun safety like never before. No longer a third rail of politics, gun violence prevention is now a top issue heading into the 2020 presidential election. In this regular series, we delve into the gun safety platforms of Democratic presidential candidates who have released initial policy plans to address this issue. While not an endorsement of any candidate or their platform, each post looks at a candidate’s record, explains their proposals, and shares our analysis.

Mike Bloomberg’s Record on Gun Safety

Mike Bloomberg has been one of America’s most active proponents of gun violence prevention for over a decade. Bloomberg’s advocacy efforts began in 2006 when he was mayor of New York City. Tired of seeing lives senselessly lost to gun violence, Mayor Bloomberg partnered with Mayor Tom Menino of Boston to launch Mayors Against Illegal Guns and push for stronger federal gun laws.

Shortly after the end of Bloomberg’s final term as mayor in 2013, he launched Everytown for Gun Safety, featuring a merger between Mayors Against Illegal Guns and Moms Demand Action. Bloomberg pledged an initial $50 million to the effort and has since provided a significant amount of the organization’s funding. Along with Giffords and other partners in the gun violence prevention movement, Everytown has helped register young voters, flip state legislatures, and elect a gun safety majority to the House of Representatives in 2018.

Mike Bloomberg’s Plan to Address Gun Violence

Given Mayor Bloomberg’s history of fierce advocacy for gun safety, it came as no surprise when he released a comprehensive gun safety plan shortly after entering the presidential race last fall. Bloomberg’s plan calls for universal background checks, an assault weapons ban, and closing the “boyfriend” loophole. We break down more of the details below:

Investing in Community Violence Intervention

“Our most urgent challenge is ending the threat of guns and the violence they do…Public safety is the foundation of our city’s prosperity. Without it, our quality of life, our economy…would surely falter.” January 2, 2006

Mike Bloomberg understands from his time as mayor that the vast majority of gun homicides in America occur in communities of color and draw a fraction of the news coverage of more high-profile mass shootings. Cities across the country that have made sustained investments in community-based violence prevention programs have seen sharp declines in shootings, yet far too often these programs go underfunded and underutilized.

New York City launched its Cure Violence program under Mayor Bloomberg in 2010. In his gun safety plan, Bloomberg calls for investing at least $100 million each year in local violence intervention programs. That level of funding would save thousands of lives and allow Americans in communities across the country to live free from the daily fear of gun violence.

Repealing Gun Industry Immunity

“Gun manufacturers are the only manufacturers in the country, that I know of, that have been granted immunity from misuse of their products.” January 17, 2013

With nearly every American industry and product, civil liability can be used as a vital check on irresponsible manufacturers and sellers. Unfortunately, this doesn’t apply to the gun industry. When Congress passed the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA) in 2005 after unprecedented gun lobby spending, the gun industry was granted immunity from nearly all lawsuits.

Mike Bloomberg has experience taking on irresponsible gun industry actors in the courts. In 2006, New York City sued 15 gun dealers in five states who had sold guns in clear straw purchases to investigators. Many of those dealers ultimately settled, but a similar lawsuit against gun manufacturers was dismissed in 2008 because of PLCAA. Bloomberg’s gun safety plan calls for a full repeal of PLCAA, which will provide families of gun violence victims a critical avenue to seek justice.

Funding Gun Violence Research

Gun violence in America is a public health crisis that claims nearly 40,000 lives each year. Last December, gun violence prevention advocates achieved a major victory when Congress agreed to invest $25 million in gun violence research at the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and National Institutes of Health (NIH) after more than two decades of virtually no funding.

Bloomberg knows that, while historic, this investment must represent only the start of a sustained campaign to understand gun violence in our country. That’s why his plan calls for investing at least $100 million annually into public health research on gun violence.

Requiring a Permit to Purchase a Gun

“I know critics will say Americans shouldn’t need a permit to exercise their constitutional rights. But voting is a constitutional right, and we require people to register to protect the rights of all citizens. This is the exactly same idea.” December 5, 2019

In most states in America, just about anyone can walk into a gun store, pass a quick background check, and buy a firearm. In states without universal background checks, anyone can purchase firearms from a gun show or online without any background check whatsoever. Compare this process to owning a car: In every state, Americans are required to meet several requirements before they can obtain a driver’s license.

Gun licensing laws raise the standard for firearm ownership by requiring people to obtain a permit before they can purchase a gun. These laws have been shown to be incredibly effective in the states that have them. Connecticut, for example, cut its gun homicide rate by 40% after passing a licensing law. Such laws are also overwhelmingly popular. A recent poll showed that 77% of Americans support them. Mike Bloomberg’s plan calls for requiring Americans to obtain a permit either from the Department of Justice or a state-level agency before buying a gun. It’s a sensible step that could save countless lives from gun violence.

Our Take

Mike Bloomberg’s dedication to the issue of gun safety couldn’t be clearer. Both during his time as mayor and through his work with Everytown, Bloomberg has consistently put gun violence prevention at the forefront of his policy agenda.

Americans are demanding—and deserve—a gun safety president who will take their concerns seriously, not a president who uses his State of the Union address to pledge allegiance to the gun lobby. All of the current Democratic frontrunners have proven that their commitment to saving lives from gun violence vastly exceeds President Trump’s. If we want to see the federal government take action to prevent gun violence and save lives, we must elect a Gun Safety President this November.