In the past few years, Michael Bloomberg repeatedly hinted that once he was no longer mayor, he would devote himself full-time to battling his arch-nemesis, the NRA. On Tuesday, he finally laid out his master plan, telling the New York Times he plans to build a new organization to motivate voters who are in favor of gun control. Of course, he’s already founded several organizations that fit that description, but supposedly this one will be different. Blooomberg thinks he’s figured out how to use the NRA’s own tactics against them, plus he’ll be pouring $50 million into the project this year – and maybe more. The Times says he threw out the figure “as if he were describing the tip he left on a restaurant check.”
Bloomberg has already spent tens of millions of dollars on defeating pro-gun candidates, with mixed results, so he’s trying a new strategy. Rather than dumping money into TV ad campaigns, he’ll focus on organizing and outreach, which has helped groups like the NRA get voters to the polls.
The groups he currently funds, Mayors Against Illegal Guns and Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, will be brought together under a considerably less wordy title: Everytown for Gun Safety. The new group will focus on expanding background checks at the national and state level, rather than banning certain types of weapons.
Taking another cue from the NRA, Bloomberg said the group will be tough on any politician who opposes gun control, even if they align with his views on other issues. “They say, ‘We don’t care. We’re going to go after you,’” he said of the NRA. “‘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.”
Democrats say that strategy could backfire by handing the Senate to the Republicans, but Bloomberg doesn’t seem to care. And now that he’s out of office, he’s even less concerned about sounding like a megalomanical billionaire. Referencing his previous efforts to curb gun violence, obesity, and smoking, he declared, “I am telling you if there is a God, when I get to heaven I’m not stopping to be interviewed. I am heading straight in. I have earned my place in heaven. It’s not even close.”
He also rejected the idea that Americans in conservative states don’t want a “Big Gulp-banning former mayor of New York” lecturing them about guns. “I don’t know what your perception is of our reputation, and mine, the name Bloomberg around the country,” he said, explaining that everyplace he goes, he hears, “You’re a rock star. People yelling out of cabs, ‘Hey, way to go!’” They’re not booing, they’re saying, “Blooo-mberg.”