Bloomberg bringing money muscle to gun reform crusade

(CBS News) NEW YORK -- In the battle over gun-control, one man is out to even up the odds with the National Rifle Association.
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, March 25, 2013.
CBS News

He is the pro-gun-control mayor of New York City and he is heavily armed - with money.

Billionaire Michael Bloomberg kicked off an ad campaign in several states Monday, aimed at pressuring the United States Senate to require background checks for all gun purchases.

Just a few days after the massacre at Newtown Connecticut, CBS News asked Bloomberg why a city mayor was diving into national politics.

"I live in America and I'm a human being. Aren't we supposed to - I don't know what your religion teaches you - mine teaches you to take care of each other. And America - read the constitution - we're all equal and we're all Americans," he said.

Television ad, Mayors Against Illegal Guns.
CBS News

The mayor has just announced he will put $12 million of his own money where his mouth is.

At first glance, Bloomberg's television ads look like NRA commercials for gun rights.

In one, a man holding a gun and sitting on the back of a pick-up truck says, "My dad taught me to hunt, and I'll teach my kids."

He goes on to say, "Closing loopholes will stop criminals and the dangerously mentally ill from buying guns. That protects my rights and my family."

Wayne LaPierre, NRA Vice President and CEO, March 24, 2013.
CBS News

But the commercials are actually part of a campaign paid for by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. The ads, running in 13 states, are meant to push Congress for stricter background checks to close loopholes in the current laws.

"What you are doing is you're getting access with this money to tell the public the facts," said Bloomberg.

This is not the first time the gun control lobby has tried to counter the mom-and-apple-pie style advocacy the NRA uses to support the rights of gun owners but it is the first time the NRA has faced an opponent who could outspend them.

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NRA CEO: Bloomberg "can't buy America"

According to Forbes, Bloomberg is the seventh richest man in the United States with an estimated wealth of $27 billion.

CBS News asked the NRA to comment Monday, they declined, but executive Vice President and Chief Executive Officer Wayne LaPierre spoke out on Sunday.

"He's going to find out this is a country of the people, by the people, and for the people and he can't spend enough of his $27 billion to try to impose his will on the American public," said LaPierre.

Mayor Bloomberg fired back on Monday.

"I don't think anybody can buy America but in the context of they've spent a $100 million and I've spent $10 million ... when you were a kid, there was something about throwing stones if you lived in glass houses," he said.

The ads are targeted at 13 states where Mayor Bloomberg believes senators, both Republican and Democrats, need a push from their constituents to vote for gun control legislation coming before the Senate.

  • John Miller

    John Miller is a senior correspondent for CBS News, with extensive experience in intelligence, law enforcement and journalism, including stints in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the FBI.