Michael Bloomberg, the 15th-richest man in the world, has announced that he is going to spend $50 million on a “grassroots” campaign against the National Rifle Association. In politics, that is a huge amount of money—far more than the amount of money the NRA has been able to spend on politics in the last several years. Other billionaires, including Warren Buffett, have announced that they, too, will support Bloomberg’s campaign.
Back in 2013, Bloomberg invested heavily in lobbyists and television advertising. Despite massively outspending NRA in both categories, he accomplished virtually nothing at the federal level, and much less than he had hoped for at the state level.
A very sore loser, he now seems intent on payback, with the Constitution caught in the crossfire.
Bloomberg recently announced that his gun-control organizations, “Mayors Against Illegal Guns” and “Moms Demand Action,” will now be folded into a new anti-gun group—“Everytown for Gun Safety.”
The new plan is to dump money on field operations to drive voter turnout; use websites and social media to collect a million names of people who say they favor additional gun control; then use the field operations to contact them and turn them out to vote.
It’s somewhat similar to President Barack Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign, whose margin of victory was provided by enormous spending, first to frighten uninformed people with lies (e.g., by warning that Mitt Romney would take away their birth control pills), then to identify as many such gullible people as possible and finally to contact them relentlessly to get them to vote.
Women are now Bloomberg’s top targets—especially mothers. The core of his campaign will be to terrify mothers about guns. As Bloomberg spokeswoman Shannon Watts (head of the Bloomberg “Moms” organization) put it, “Moms are afraid our children will be taken away and in the end, I think that’s the emotion that will win the debate.”
In fact, “Everytown” debuted with a web video in which a young girl finds a gun in a closet and then shoots her brother. The video concludes by announcing, “Scenes like this happen all the time.”
That’s a lie.
Bloomberg never tells viewers that the number of fatal gun accidents involving children (ages 0-14) has declined from a high of 581 in 1971, down to 62 in 2010. (Based on data from the federal Centers for Disease Control, and from the National Safety Council.) This was during a time period when the American gun supply increased enormously, from about 117 million in 1971, to about 320 million in 2010.
Incidentally, part of the reason for the plunge in accidents is NRA’s very own Eddie Eagle GunSafe® program. Eddie Eagle has taught more than 27 million children that if they see a gun, “Stop! Don’t touch! Leave the area. Tell an adult.” The program has been endorsed by the National Sheriffs’ Association and the U.S. Department of Justice, and is taught by police departments and sheriffs’ offices throughout the United States.
Having tried to deceive people about gun accidents, Bloomberg’s plan is to tell them to vote for anti-gun candidates because those candidates favor “universal background checks” for all gun sales. But as we saw last year, Bloomberg’s background check plan is not really about background checks; it’s about criminalizing as many gun owners as possible.
For example, Bloomberg’s “Initiative 594” on the Washington State ballot this November would make it illegal to loan your firearm to a friend while the two of you plink together on your own land or National Forest property. It would also be a crime to give a gun to a ranch hand or farm hand for a few hours for predator control.
Bloomberg claims to support the Second Amendment, but in the 2008 Heller case, he filed an amicus brief insisting that ordinary Americans have no Second Amendment rights.
Bloomberg’s extremism has led to dozens of members of his “Mayors” group quitting after they figured out his true agenda. For example, John Tkazyik, Mayor of Poughkeepsie, N.Y., quit because he said that he had realized the Bloomberg group’s aim was “to promote confiscation of guns from law-abiding citizens.”
Bloomberg believes he knows much better than you about how you should live your life and take care of your family. In fact, according to Bloomberg, anybody who has kids and a gun in the same house is “really dumb.”
Which is a perfect example of his extreme hypocrisy. Instead of having a gun himself, he is provided with 24/7 protection by his own armed security guards. Now I don’t have an issue with the fact that Bloomberg has armed security. The problem I have is that he thinks his life is worth protecting but ours are not.
Bloomberg’s holier-than-thou attitude seems to have actually grown as large as his unchecked ego. In announcing the $50 million pledge, he told The New York Times, “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.”
Bloomberg actually believes that his efforts to restrict and ban guns, smoking, and food portions and ingredients are what have “earned” him his place in heaven—of course that is only “if” there is a God, he says. I’ve looked, and I can’t find anywhere in scripture that says the way to get into heaven is to deny good people the right to defend themselves from criminal attack.
Bloomberg also says he is treated like a “rock star” because people in taxicabs sometimes yell out praise to him. While most New Yorkers who don’t like him are probably too busy to say so to his face, he’s really not even universally popular in New York City.
To get re-elected mayor by a small margin in 2009, he had to spend $175 per vote—$108 million total.
As for the rest of America, as The Washington Post political writer Chris Cillizza observed, “Bloomberg doesn’t fully grasp how he is viewed by many people outside of major cities and the Northeast.” As if he would even take the time to talk to the ordinary citizens of flyover country, if he ever visited there.
Make no mistake about it, the Bloomberg lobby is not a “grassroots” organization, despite the national media’s false claims that it is (they seem to have lost their dictionaries). “Everytown” is more like AstroTurf—driven from the top down by political consultants, ad men and the like. It’s the 2014 version of the 1999 “Million Mom March,” which was also a top-down invention of the political class, but was presented to the public as genuine grassroots. It’s the exact opposite of the NRA, which has 5 million dues-paying members and tens of millions of additional supporters.
Meanwhile, the so-called “mainstream” media, which shrieks incessantly about too much money in politics, employs a double standard for Bloomberg, actually praising him for attempting to buy American elections. Sen. Charles Schumer, Bloomberg’s most ardent supporter in Congress, said that Charles and David Koch’s TV ads criticizing Obamacare were “un-American” and should be outlawed. He said that the Kochs had too much influence on politics. Want to guess whether Sen. Schumer will criticize Bloomberg’s attempt to supersize his own power?
Bloomberg’s lavish spending clarifies the 2014 election. Gun control is not a grassroots movement of “Moms” or of anybody else. It is the prohibition agenda of Michael Bloomberg and his friends being forced on the American people. The candidates who are endorsed by Bloomberg are, by definition, the favorites of the gun-ban lobby. If they advance, then so does gun control.
Bloomberg has made certain that anti-gun political spending will greatly exceed pro-rights spending in the important upcoming elections. The NRA could recruit 500,000 more members with annual dues of $35 and pour every cent of that $17.5 million into the election, and Bloomberg, Buffett and other billionaires could easily double the amount with their own pocket change.
But money doesn’t always buy happiness, or elections. When you’re being heavily outspent in an election, the most crucial factor is whether you have enough resources to communicate your message to your potential supporters. The Second Amendment can win in 2014 if NRA has the resources to communicate the truth—and the importance of voting—to the millions of less politically active gun owners who do not belong to NRA.
This isn’t the first time that the NRA has battled oligarchs. The NRA’s first forays into politics—beyond promoting marksmanship programs—were in the 1920s, when the Northeastern upper-class business establishment began pushing handgun prohibition. The NRA beat the plutocracy then.
The NRA and gun-rights supporters defeated the big money again just last year during the Colorado state senate recalls, even though Bloomberg and his allies outspent the pro-rights forces by a 7-1 margin. Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper then publicly urged Bloomberg to stay away from any future recall campaigns. Hickenlooper observed that Coloradans do not like outsiders, such as Bloomberg, meddling in Colorado affairs. Of course, Coloradans did not treat the NRA like an outsider, and for good reason— in Colorado, NRA has a hundred thousand real, dues-paying members.
NRA can beat the oligarchs again in 2014—but if, and only if, NRA members get active and prove once again that their grassroots people power can overcome Bloomberg’s money power.