Politics

Mike Bloomberg rolls out sweeping gun safety reform proposals

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Key Points
  • The policy would close the "private sale loophole" through which people can more easily buy guns from unlicensed sellers at gun shows or online.
  • The proposal would also reverse President Donald Trump's proposed firearm export regulations, which make it easier to sell weapons to foreign buyers.
  • Gun safety reform has been a focus for Mike Bloomberg as a private citizen. He has personally pledged $50 million to support Everytown for Gun Safety, an organization he helped found in 2014 that has already become a powerful voice in the debate.
Democratic presidential candidate, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg speaks during an event to introduce his gun safety policy agenda at the Heritage Christian Center on December 5, 2019 in Aurora, Colorado.
Michael Ciaglo | Getty Images

Mike Bloomberg, who has already helped bankroll a battle for gun reform as a private citizen, on Thursday rolled out his gun safety proposals for his 2020 presidential run.

Gun safety is a passionate point for Bloomberg. He previously pledged $50 million to support Everytown for Gun Safety, an organization he helped found in 2014 to promote gun reform.

The policies Bloomberg laid out Thursday would require anyone who buys gun to pass a thorough background check. He would:

  • Close the "private sale loophole" through which people can more easily buy guns from unlicensed sellers at gun shows or online.
  • Require retailers to use sales records to track guns used for crimes — and notify police when people have been barred from using a gun.
  • Implement a central system would track when a gun owner has a criminal conviction or restraining order placed on them, barring them from owning firearms.

The proposal would also reverse President Donald Trump's proposed firearm export regulations, which make it easier to sell weapons to foreign buyers. Those regulations are aimed at helping foster sales for gun companies like Vista Outdoors, Smith & Wesson parent company American Outdoor Brands and Sturm, Ruger & Co.

The proposed regulation would also close the "boyfriend loophole," that prevents married domestic abusers from owning guns, but not unmarried partners. It would set a minimum age of 21 for anyone who wants to purchase handguns, semi-automatic rifles and shotguns.

Retailers like Walmart have already raised their age restrictions to 21 for firearm and ammunition purchases.

The proposal would ban the sale of assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, reinstating a prohibition that expired in 2004. Walmart CEO, Doug McMillon, has said that reinstating that ban "should be debated to determine its effectiveness." The retailer earlier this year stopped selling ammunition for handguns and some assault-style rifles after two shootings at Walmart stores.

Bloomberg would also prohibit guns in all schools, aside from those used by law enforcement.

The proposal would also tackle the gun violence crisis financially, including $100 million a year into local violence intervention programs and at least $100 million for public health research into gun violence. By declaring the crisis to be a public health emergency, the plan would expedite financial support.

Bloomberg also said Thursday said he would repeal the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, a 2005 law that shields gun makers from liability for crimes committed with their products. The law has come under renewed scrutiny after families of children killed in the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary school massacre in Connecticut sued gun maker Remington. The families argued that Remington which makes the AR-15-style weapon used in the incident marketed the weapon in a way that inspired gunman Adam Lanza. The Supreme Court said in November that it declined to hear the case.

The proposed plan put forward by Bloomberg , who is worth $54 billion, represents a new challenge for the National Rifle Association, the gun lobbyist group that has long been a strong force in Washington, D.C., but has recently been stricken with infighting and financial distress.

In response to Bloomberg's proposal the NRA said: "Mike Bloomberg supports gun registration along with every oppressive and failed gun control scheme ever conceived. This hypocritical billionaire who surrounds himself with armed guards 24/7 doesn't believe that self-defense is a fundamental human right or that gun ownership is an individual constitutional right as determined by the Supreme Court in the historic Heller decision."

Shannon Watts, founder of Everytown's Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, also responded. In a statement she said: "Given the significant progress we've made in the past six years working together, it's no surprise Mayor Bloomberg has put forward a bold and comprehensive agenda to address a gun violence crisis that claims 100 lives every day in America and wounds hundreds more. 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."

Bloomberg's Everytown spent $2.5 million in Virginia's elections this past November, helping Democrats take full control of the Virginia House and Senate the first time since 1994.