Bloomberg's Gun Control Group Pushes Ahead Amid Scrutiny

Bloomberg's Gun Control Group Pushes Ahead Amid Scrutiny

After Democrats lost seats in the Colorado state legislature due to a recall vote of two State Senators over their active support of tighter gun control laws, further scrutiny fell upon the seven-year old organization Mayors Against Illegal Guns (MAIG). The group, co-founded and co-chaired by New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg, is responsible for pushing gun control legislation across the country, including in Colorado.

Prior to her defeat during the Colorado recall, Democratic State Senator Angela Giron told The New Republic on September 10 if she or fellow Democrat State Senator John Morse were recalled, MAIG “might as well fold it up. And they understand that.” Mayor Bloomberg’s group reportedly donated $350,000 to keep both Morse and Giron in office.

The losses in Colorado are not slowing down Bloomberg and his mission for government control over all guns. MAIG told Talking Points Memo it is targeting five more states. 

  • In Oregon, MAIG is looking to push a bill full of gun control measures, which currently lacks one vote to pass. 
  • In Minnesota, MAIG is focused on building up a team of state lobbyists to help find legislators who will pass a background check bill that recently failed. 
  • MAIG is also doing work in New Mexico on a bill that would ban the private sale of firearms with some exceptions. The bill is still in the Senate, but Republican Governor Susanna Martinez has said she would sign it if it reached her desk. 
  • Nevada Republican Governor Brian Sandoval vetoed a universal background check bill for firearms purchases in June. The bill was proposed by Democratic State Senator Justin Jones. According to TPM, Jones is looking to propose the bill again but is under the threat of a recall election if he does. MAIG says they will defend Jones if this happens. 
  • In Washington state, gun control advocates introduced a ballot initiative pushing for an expansion of background checks. An official told TPM that MAIG will likely insert itself into the process via financing and field operations. 

One state not mentioned as a battlefront for MAIG to TPM was Virginia, where Democratic gubernatorial nominee Terry McAuliffe is actively avoiding discussing his support of an assault weapons ban. McAuliffe is practicing his own strategy; when pressed by Breitbart News, he refused to say if he wanted to bring the AWB to Virgnia. 

After Politico reported that McAuliffe met with Bloomberg, neither would comment on the meeting. There are currently 12 MAIG members who are mayors within the Commonwealth. They represent the cities and towns of: Alexandria, Ashland, Blacksburg, Charlottesville, Newport News, Norfolk, Petersburg, Purcellville, Richmond, Roanoke, Virgnia Beach, and Waverly.

National Review points out a 2007 Salon piece explaining that after George W. Bush won the White House in 2000, McAuliffe demanded that his Party drop the gun control issue:

By the middle of 2001, ditching gun control had become conventional wisdom among centrist Democrats. Sen. Zell Miller, D-Ga., said Al Gore had talked about it too much. Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut, Gore’s running mate, thought gun control had cost the Democratic ticket “a number of voters who on almost every other issue realized they’d be better off with Al Gore.” Terry McAuliffe, head of the Democratic National Committee, in particular wanted his party to drop the issue. In a June 2001 article discussing McAuliffe’s strategy, Roger Simon cited a strong correlation between gun ownership and voting for Bush, as demonstrated by exit poll stats. “Guns made a big difference in 2000,” argued Simon, “especially in some key states that Al Gore lost, like Tennessee and Arkansas.” What Simon did not establish was how many of these gun owners considered gun control a paramount issue, or whether any of them would’ve chosen Gore over Bush if the vice president had moved further or earlier to the right.

In the past few months, MAIG has lost 50 of its original members, and the coalition has scrambled to replace the losses. According to former members of MAIG, they joined the group under the impression it would focus its efforts solely on weapons obtained illegally by criminals and enforcement of current firearm laws.

“The original focus, I thought, was going to be… on better enforcement of our existing laws, and if anything, we have talked about not getting involved with things like banning assault weapons and banning magazine clips,” said former member Rockford, Illinois Mayor Lawrence Morrissey to BuzzFeed.

At a town meeting in June, the NY Post reported Morrissey told attendees, “The reason why I joined the group in the first place is because I took the name for what it said — against ‘illegal’ guns.”

“They’re not just against illegal guns, they’re against all guns,” Sioux City, South Dakota Mayor Bob Scott, a former MAIG member, told the Sioux City Journal in July. Nashua, New Hampshire Mayor Donalee Lozeau agreed with Scott. She left MAIG when they began attacking Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) for voting against the Senate gun control bill.

Talking to The New Hampshire Union Leader, Lozeau explained, “I said, ‘Wait a minute, I don’t want to be part of something like that.'” She told the newspaper last month, “I told them, ‘You’re mayors against illegal guns, you’re not Mayors for Gun Control.”

MAIG’s Mark Glaze, the director of Mayors Against Illegal Guns, blew off the loss of members, explaining to the Post, “Mayors come and go. We lose them on occasion, but it’s going upward.” However, Glaze, whose group still touts about 1000 mayors nationwide, told National Journal in March its failure to bring in more members from Western states are due to “a couple of factors.” Glazer admitted, “First, it’s [that] there are just more mayors in a couple states than others. But, of course, ideology plays a role. In Western states there is a higher percentage of gun ownership and lower percentage of gun crime, so it can be a tougher sell.”

A victims’ rights groups slammed Bloomberg and his MAIG coalition when the gun control group included the name of accused Boston Marathon bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev on a list of gun violence victims. MAIG was forced to apologize after the incident. Although Bloomberg has invested millions of his personal fortune into the 510(c)(4) group, MAIG’s own website was hosted by New York City’s government Internet servers, causing an uproar among government watchdog groups.

MAIG also managed to anger top Democrats who criticized the organization for attacking fellow party members in the Senate within red states who did not back a gun bill widening background checks. The New York Post reported Senator Chuck Schumer (D-IL) hit back at the group, saying that the “mayor of New York City putting ads against people in red states is not going to be effective.” 

Democrats may secretly meet with Bloomberg for financial help, but any hint of public support from Bloomberg and his coalition in a tight race could mean defeat for another pro-gun control candidate.

“He has zero effectiveness, he has none,” said one Republican strategist to National Journal, who asked to remain anonymous because of his ties to Bloomberg. “It’s a twofer: He’s a big-city mayor–and not just any big-city mayor, New York–and you have the nanny-in-chief of America… He is so antagonistic that he’s probably displacing Dianne Feinstein amongst NRA loyalists.”