- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 24, 2013

New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg is launching a $12 million nationwide advertising blitz in 13 states during Congress’ two-week Easter break in an attempt to ramp up pressure on Democrats and Republicans alike to pass federal gun legislation.

“I don’t think there’s ever been an issue where the public’s spoken so clearly where Congress hasn’t eventually understood and done the right thing,” Mr. Bloomberg said in an excerpt from an interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “We are going to have a vote for sure on assault weapons, we’re going to have a vote on background checks, and if we were to get background checks only, it wouldn’t be as good as if we got both, but we demanded a plan and then we demanded a vote. We got the plan; we’re going to get the vote.”

The ads, titled “Responsible” and “Family,” show a gun owner proclaiming his support for the Second Amendment along with comprehensive background checks.

The ads are to run in Republican-leaning states such as Arkansas, North Carolina and Louisiana — all represented by Senate Democrats up for re-election in 2014 (Sens. Mark L. Pryor, Kay R. Hagan and Mary L. Landrieu, respectively). Targeted Republicans include Sens. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, the ranking member on the Judiciary Committee; Susan M. Collins of Maine, who is also up for re-election in 2014; and Rob Portman in the battleground state of Ohio.

When the Senate returns, members will debate a gun package that includes measures to require background checks on virtually all gun sales, curb illegal gun trafficking and toughen penalties on straw purchasers, who buy guns with the intent to transfer them to people who can’t legally own one. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat, also has assured members they will have the opportunity to offer amendments so there can be votes on bans on so-called assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.

The National Rifle Association, meanwhile, is planning its own campaign during the recess. Chris W. Cox, the group’s head lobbyist, told The New York Times that the NRA cannot match Mr. Bloomberg dollar for dollar, but that “no one can. We don’t have to.”

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“What he is going to find out is that Americans don’t want to be told by some elitist billionaire what they can eat, drink, and they damn well don’t want to be told how, when and where they can protect their families,” Mr. Cox said.

• David Sherfinski can be reached at dsherfinski@washingtontimes.com.

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