As Mayor Bloomberg winds down his final weeks in office, he has been highlighting what he considers to be his major accomplishments. On Thursday, the mayor spoke about his fight against illegal guns, an issue he promises to push even after leaving office. Zack Fink filed the following report.
Saturday will mark the one-year anniversary of the Newtown, Connecticut shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, where 20 first-graders lost their lives.
Mayor Bloomberg, who has been highly visible on the issue of gun violence, marked the anniversary by noting how little has been done to reduce gun trafficking at the federal level.
"Nothing has changed in Washington since Newtown, despite the fact that the vast majority of American people favor basic steps that would help keep guns out of the hands of the mentally ill, criminals and other dangerous people,” Bloomberg said.
The mayor also unveiled the results of a study by his organization, Mayors Against Illegal Guns. The report, called "In the Business, Outside the Law," found that unlicensed sellers are flooding the Internet with guns, claiming that nearly 30 percent of guns sold on the site are sold by high-volume, unlicensed sellers.
Bloomberg called on Congress to enact policies that would end easy access to guns on unregulated sites.
"Congress needs to require all those engaged in the business of selling guns, including the kind of high-volume private sellers we've described today, to comply with the federal background check law," Bloomberg said. "There is simply no reason why this should be a burden on them or on purchasers, but it would save an awful lot of lives, and it could be you, your life, me, my life, or our children's lives."
With less than three weeks left as mayor, Bloomberg says he intends to remain active with his organization after leaving office.
"You can rest assured I will devote extensive resources of my own, and work very hard, and we’re working out, this organization is not going away,” Bloomberg said.
Members of the State Assembly also marked the Sandy Hook anniversary and commemorated the Long Island Railroad massacre of 20 years ago.
"It was the seminal issue in the suburbs in terms of bringing to the consciousness of this country about gun violence. That the suburbs are not always a sanctuary to urban violence,” said Assemblywoman Michelle Schimel of Great Neck.
The LIRR shooting helped expedite the passage of an assault weapons ban in Congress, which was later allowed to expire.
Earlier this year, state lawmakers passed the SAFE Act, making New York one of the strictest states for gun control in the nation. Still, Democrats have additional bills they want passed.
"You never finish definitively legislating in an area as important like this. We are talking about additional protections for safe storage, particularly when there are children present,” said Assemblyman Brian Kavanagh, who represents Manhattan.
Because it took so much political muscle to get the SAFE Act through Republicans in the state Senate, it seems unlikely that they'll have any appetite for further firearms restrictions, particularly in this upcoming election year.