Vogel: Michael Bloomberg's legacy on gun control
Last week's Senate rejection of expanded background checks for gun purchases reminds us of Mayor Michael Bloomberg's true legacy.
Whatever you think of our mayor, it's undeniable that he's been a strong voice -- too often, the only voice -- taking on the National Rifle Association in the battle for gun sanity.
The mayor wasted no time responding to the Senate's gutless vote. "This is a disgrace," Bloomberg said last Thursday. "Criminals won."
Unlike most politicians, Bloomberg's outrage isn't limited to self-righteous press releases. He's launched an expensive national campaign going after the three Democrats and 11 Republicans who voted against the bill and are up for re-election in 2014.
It always angered me that Bloomberg used his wealth to basically buy a third term, spending $100 million and doing an end run around the term-limit restriction. But in this case, I admit I'm happy about his unlimited financial resources. Who else can match the NRA dollar for dollar?
Bloomberg believes that NRA cash and disinformation plus rural bias are the key factors in the rejection of sane gun laws. Think about it: By voting "no" on the bill, Wyoming's two senators, who represent around 580,000 people, effectively canceled out the "yes" votes of our two senators, who represent nearly 20 million people. No wonder the background check measure failed even though 90 percent of the American public supported it.
The mayor's outspokenness on the issue -- along with his financial clout -- has drawn the NRA's wrath, with its executive vice president Wayne LaPierre blustering that Bloomberg's approach to gun control is "insane." I guess LaPierre doesn't believe in spending big money to influence politicians. Are you kidding, Wayne?
Bloomberg isn't intimidated that he has become the NRA's public enemy No. 1. In fact, he's proud of it. "I think I have a responsibility . . . to try to make this country safer," Bloomberg said on "Meet the Press" last month. "If I can do that by spending some money and by taking the NRA from being the only voice . . . then I think my money would be well spent."
The mayor plans to continue his push for gun sanity even after he leaves office at the end of the year.
And New Yorkers are proud of him for doing so.
Playwright Mike Vogel blogs at newyorkgritty.net.