AURORA, Colo. – Former New York City mayor and current Democratic presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg unveiled his anti-gun violence policy Thursday afternoon at a town hall meeting in Aurora.
The 77-year-old billionaire former mayor and former Republican, who entered the race in recent weeks after saying earlier this year he would not run for president in 2020, has already been running ads in Colorado – one of more than a dozen states Bloomberg has targeted since his entrance.
He has pledged to spend at least $50 million to support Everytown for Gun Safety and has in the past been a financial backer of other similar anti-gun violence groups and political candidates. He has said he would spend at least $150 million of his own money during the 2020 election.
Bloomberg unveiled his new policy at Aurora’s Heritage Christian Center, close to the site of the Aurora theater shooting, and was joined by Rep. Tom Sullivan, D-Centennial, whose son, Alex, died in the theater shooting, as well as other gun violence survivors and Debbie Weir, an executive for Everytown for Gun Safety.
Bloomberg’s proposal calls for many of the changes anti-gun violence proponents have demanded in recent years, as well some of the facets contained in the sweeping background checks bill passed by the U.S. House of Representatives in February, which has still not been brought up in the Republican-held Senate.
He is calling for better background checks, which would include mandatory background checks for all gun sales, including private sales. He would also require every person who buys a gun to get a permit beforehand and implement a central system to let police know when people prohibited from buying guns attempt to do so, among other things.
His plan also calls for the closing of the so-called “boyfriend loophole” that allows domestic abusers to have guns even if they have restraining orders against them so long as they are not married to the person. And it calls for a 48-hour waiting period for all gun buyers.
Bloomberg is calling for the passage of a federal red flag extreme risk protection order law that would expand them to all 50 states and fund state efforts to support such laws, like the one passed this year in Colorado.
Bloomberg hopes to reinstate the federal ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines and mandate secure storage of all firearms. He also wants to ban all guns at all K-12 schools, college and universities except for law enforcement officers.
Another piece of his plan would require anyone buying handguns, semi-automatic rifles and shotguns to be at least 21 years old – another loophole in some state and federal laws. Sol Pais, who was obsessed with the Columbine shooting, was able to buy a shotgun in Colorado despite her being 18 years old, which set off a manhunt that shut down schools across the Denver area earlier this year.
Bloomberg is also proposing putting hundreds of millions of dollars annually toward violence intervention programs, increasing ATF capabilities and increasing public health research into gun violence.
And finally, Bloomberg said he wanted to make a handful of federal reforms to gun manufacturers can be held liable in shootings through civil lawsuits and wants to declare the gun violence crisis a public health emergency to free up and expedite funding and research.
Bloomberg said at the afternoon news conference he would work to get his plan implemented whether he is elected president or not.
“As president, I will work to end the gun violence epidemic once and for all,” Bloomberg said. “My agenda will make it harder for criminals to get guns, make families and communities more secure, and give law enforcement the tools to save lives – and, working with Congress, I will get the job done.”
Sullivan said he was supporting Bloomberg and that he believed more people who have been victims of gun violence would be running for office in coming years – as he did when he won election to the Colorado House in 2018
“Mike Bloomberg is not just talking about the issue, he’s created a serious plan to address it,” Sullivan said. “I am supporting Mike as someone who has never been afraid to take on the gun lobby and make this issue a top priority. He is exactly what this country needs right now.”
Bloomberg was one of the mayors who initially formed Mayors Against Illegal Guns in 2006, which was joined by 1,000 other mayors and eventually merged with Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. He also helped to found Everytown for Gun Safety.
“This is an extraordinary moment as presidential candidates are vying to be the biggest and boldest on the issue of gun safety, in stark contrast to past cycles, where candidates frequently hid,” said Moms Demand Action founder Shannon Watts. “After Mayor Bloomberg’s many years of working to end gun violence, it makes sense that he is now centering his campaign on this life or death issue.”
Bloomberg and his organizations have supported initiatives and Colorado in the past, including donating to Mike Johnston during his gubernatorial candidacy and Bloomberg Philanthropies sending money to Denver in 2015 to try and make data more accessible through the “What Works Cities” program.
Two national polls released earlier this week – from Morning Consult and Hill-HarrisX – had Bloomberg with 5%.