CITY HALL — A somber Mayor Michael Bloomberg, at times choked by emotion, stood with victims of gun violence to demand federal action on gun control, three days after the Newtown, Conn. school massacre that left 26 dead, including 20 young children.
Standing side-by-side with victims of recent gun tragedies including the fatal July shooting in a movie theater in Aurora, Colo., the 2011 shooting at a Tucson diner that killed six and wounded 13 including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, Bloomberg said the tragedy must serve as a wake-up call after years of inaction.
“Our hearts are broken and our prayers are with you,” said Bloomberg, who helped found Mayors Against Illegal Guns, and has become one of the country's most vocal gun control advocates.
Bloomberg called the shooting “an unspeakable crime."
“If the massacre in Tucson wasn’t enough to make out national leaders act, and if the more recent bloodshed in Aurora, Colorado, in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, in Portland, Oregon and other cities wasn’t enough, perhaps this slaughter of innocence at Sandy Hook Elementary School will at long last be enough,” he said at a press conference at City Hall.
Echoing the same calls he's made after previous mass shootings, Bloomberg outlined a series of initiatives he said would begin to curb the epidemic, including closing the so-called “gun show loophole” that allows people to purchase guns online and at gun shows without a criminal background check. An estimated 40 percent of all U.S. gun sales are purchased under the exception, he said.
He also called for a ban on "deadly, military-style assault weapons" and high-capacity magazines which were previously banned under the expired federal assault weapons ban.
"The last time I saw a deer wearing an armored vest was a long time ago," Bloomberg said regarding army-piercing bullets and other designed-to-kill weapons.
Once again, he called on President Barack Obama and the Justice Department to commit to addressing gun control more aggressively, including confirming a new director for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, which has been without a leader for the past six years.
He also vowed to counter the NRA's power with his own vast wealth.
As part of a new effort to pressure leaders to act, the group unveiled a new "I Demand A Plan" campaign featuring video pleas for a solution from 34 survivors and family members of victims of gun violence. The group represented the 34 people killed each day by guns.
The videos will be delivered to the members of the 113th Congress when it convenes in January, Bloomberg said.
On Sunday, Bloomberg demanded action from the president during an appearance on Meet the Press, saying it should be the No. 1 priority of Obama's second term.
“It’s time for the president, I think, to stand up and lead and tell this country what we should do,” he said, calling the NRA's power "vastly overrated."