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16 Apr, 2014 18:01

Bloomberg targets NRA with big money

Bloomberg targets NRA with big money

Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg may be out of office, but he’s just starting to make some noise if his latest investment is any indication: a new organization intended to take on the National Rifle Association.

In a report by the New York Times, Bloomberg announced plans to spend $50 million this year in order to establish a grass-roots network of gun-control advocates across the United States.

Bloomberg already funds a couple of groups, known as Mayors Against Illegal Guns in addition to Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. Through his new initiative, these groups will be pooled under one banner called Everytown for Gun Safety.

According to CNN, the group will advocate for an expansion of background checks, stricter laws on gun trafficking, keeping weapons out of the hands of domestic abusers, and gun safety education.

At the same time, Bloomberg said the organization will directly challenge the NRA while using similar tactics to attack politicians who oppose its agenda, regardless of their party affiliation.

“They [the NRA] say, ‘We don’t care. We’re going to go after you,’ ” he told the New York Times. “‘If you don’t vote with us we’re going to go after your kids and your grandkids and your great-grandkids. And we’re never going to stop.’”

“We’ve got to make them afraid of us.”

In the NRA, Bloomberg faces a formidable organization with significant resources. Since 1990, the gun group has spent almost $150 million on political campaigns, with another $30 million spent on lobbying since 1998. In the first two months of 2014, the group has raised about $14 million for spending during this year’s midterm elections.

Despite the aggressive approach Bloomberg plans to take – he’s also hired high-profile names such as Warren Buffett and former Homeland Security secretary Tom Ridge – not everyone is convinced the push is worthwhile.

“He’s got the money to waste,” Larry Pratt of Gun Owners of America told the Times. “So I guess he’s free to do so. But frankly, I think he’s going to find out why his side keeps losing.”

Speaking with CNN last year, Mark Kelly – the husband of former Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who was shot and severely injured in 2011 – described the uphill struggle gun control supports have against groups like the NRA.

"I don't want to lay blame anywhere, but it is a reality that the gun lobby has an incredible amount of political influence with members of Congress in Washington," he said. "I mean, it's very clear that many members take their cues on this issue from the gun lobby.”

While Bloomberg’s group will target both Democrats and Republicans, Moms Demand Action founder Shannon Watts believes that efforts to reach out to women, swing voters in recent elections, will be just as important.

“Right now, women, when they go to the polls, they vote on abortion, they vote on jobs, they vote on health care,” she told the Times. “We want one of those things to be gun violence prevention.”