Mayor Bloomberg Stressed Gun Control Right Before Empire State Building Shooting

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New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg looks on as the New York Knicks play against the Miami Heat in Game Three of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals in the 2012 NBA Playoffs on May 3, 2012 at Madison Square Garden in New York City.
Photo: Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images

Although the details of this morning's fatal shooting near the Empire State Building are still being sorted, the likely response from Mayor Bloomberg in the days and weeks to come will sadly sound all too familiar. During a bloody summer of gun violence in New York City, plus the mass killings in Colorado and Wisconsin, and a rising murder rate in Chicago, where nineteen people were shot overnight, Bloomberg has been loud on the national circuit about the need for leadership on gun control.

Speaking this morning on the radio, moments before the shots rang out in midtown, the mayor decried the killing of a 13-year-old boy near his home in Brooklyn overnight. "I speak at too many funerals and read too many of these stories. And I just wonder what would I do if it was someone I loved?" Bloomberg said. "It is just too many guns on the streets."

Jeffrey Johnson, the man who allegedly fired three shots at a former co-worker today before being killed by police, was carrying a .45-caliber semiautomatic handgun, which holds eight bullets, said NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly. ("The cops unleashed a torrent of shots," the Post reports, "cutting down the suspect and possibly hitting some of the nine innocent bystanders who were caught in the mayhem.")

Bloomberg, aware of the political realities of taking on the Second Amendment, has been careful to refer to "crime control" and illegal guns specifically while making his case in public and via his anti-gun organization Mayors Against Illegal Guns. But despite the status of Johnson's weapon and how he obtained it, which will be subjected to scrutiny in the aftermath of the shooting, the tragic events will nonetheless provide yet another opportunity for the mayor to repeat himself.

"I don't know what it takes," Bloomberg said this morning, unaware of still more violence about to occur. "Somebody asked me what would shock Congress. Well, they had a Congresswoman shot ... And that didn't seem to do anything," he said. "The Founding Fathers, I don't think, ever envisioned AK-47s in the hands of people." It's unfortunate how many opportunities he has to echo the same refrain — it resonates emotionally every time, and yet politically, it never seems to stick.