Bloomberg talks gun control in commencement address
May 18th, 2013
04:35 PM ET
10 years ago

Bloomberg talks gun control in commencement address

(CNN) - Diverging from the generally non-political college sendoff, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a gun-control advocate, Saturday tore into members of Congress for failing to pass background check legislation.

Giving a commencement address at Kenyon College in Ohio, Bloomberg recounted a shooting last year by a 17-year-old who opened fire at an Ohio high school, killing three and injuring others.

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"It was national news - for a day or two," said Bloomberg, according to prepared remarks. "Then came mass shootings in Pittsburgh, Miami, Oakland, Tulsa, Seattle, Wilmington, Aurora, Milwaukee, Texas A&M, Minneapolis, Brookfield, Portland."

"After each one, those in Washington just shrugged."

"Then, Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. Twenty children, six faculty members all gunned down," Bloomberg continued, noting the push by President Barack Obama and various members of Congress to pass gun-control legislation.

One ensuing measure, authored by Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Republican Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, fell short of the 60-vote threshold needed to move forward in the Senate.

The legislation would have expanded background checks on firearms sale to online and private sales, excluding those between family members. A separate failed proposal called for banning some semi-automatic weapons modeled after military assault weapons.

Bloomberg said members of Congress lacked "the courage to stand up to the increasingly extremist view of the NRA's Washington lobbyists," pointing to concern from some lawmakers who voted against the measure, including Democrats with a large number of Republican constituents, of political retaliation from gun rights advocates.

Tying the address back to Kenyon, Bloomberg quoted college alumnus and former President Rutherford B. Hayes, who said, "He serves his party best who serves his country best."

"Instead, we have a federal law that prohibits criminals and the mentally ill from buying guns - and we have a Congress that doesn't have the courage to enforce it through a comprehensive background check system," Bloomberg told graduates.

After rattling off a number of gun-related death statistics, Bloomberg indicated that though he had given up on Washington, he had not given up on the next generation.

"I believe we will win - sooner or later. Because I believe in all of you," he said, "Your generation - more than any other, at least since the 1960s - is reshaping society in fundamental ways by making your values known and your voices heard."

CNN's Steve Brusk and Dana Davidsen contributed to this report.

Filed under: 2013 • Michael Bloomberg
soundoff (19 Responses)
  1. WeNotYou

    "The legislation would have expanded background checks on firearms sale to online and private sales, excluding those between family members."

    It did not exclude sales between family members.

    (2) Paragraph (1) shall not apply to–

    ‘(A) bona fide gifts between spouses, between parents and their children, between siblings, or between grandparents and their grandchildren;

    Gifts not sales are excluded. And cousins, aunts and uncles all would require background checks whether it be a gift or sale.

    May 18, 2013 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  2. psuog

    why does anyone still listen to this person? if there was ever anyone who distilled facts into whatever he wanted them to present, this is the person.

    May 18, 2013 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  3. ThinkAgain

    Who said the following:

    1. This is a matter of vital importance to the public safety ... While we recognize that assault-weapon legislation will not stop all assault-weapon crime, statistics prove that we can dry up the supply of these guns, making them less accessible to criminals.

    2. I do not believe in taking away the right of the citizen for sporting, for hunting and so forth, or for home defense. But I do believe that an AK-47, a machine gun, is not a sporting weapon or needed for defense of a home.

    3. Certain forms of ammunition have no legitimate sporting, recreational, or self-defense use and thus should be prohibited.

    4. With the right to bear arms comes a great responsibility to use caution and common sense on handgun purchases.

    Who said this? Ronald Reagan

    1. In a May 3, 1994 letter to the U.S. House of Representatives, which was also signed by Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford.
    2. In a speech at his 78th birthday celebration in Los Angeles on February 6, 1989.
    3. In an August 28, 1986 signing statement on a bill that banned the production and importation of armor-piercing bullets.
    4. In a speech at George Washington University in a on March 29, 1991.

    So all you GOPers out there pining for the "good ol' days of Reagan," now's your chance to honor your hero and demand GOP legislators to pass gun control laws NOW.

    May 18, 2013 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  4. Rick McDaniel

    Bloomberg has zero sense. Some of his ideas are simply looney.

    May 18, 2013 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  5. Thomas

    The founding Fathers would want every american to own a hand gun with a 14 round clip or an assault rifle .

    They knew how dangerous the subway can be at night.

    May 18, 2013 06:35 pm at 6:35 pm |
  6. Deal Breaker


    The common sense.... and only vote I plan to change is the one to get the " gun-grabbers/ Anti-Second Amendment People (ASAP's) " out of office!

    Misguided people such as him, will never stop; at least not until they've destroyed this country. He ("bloomberg") will not care, he has the money to live comfortable unlike the a normal citizen on the grind. Normal citizens do not have an armed crew to protect them like Mr. B. Yet somehow he beilives knows the struggles of the common man? really...
    He is probably right eventually,They'll succeed using the dumbest voters in the history of mankind as their tools. This includes the idiots that vote themselves government hand-outs the Democrat side....And the Conservatives that help them, because they're too stupid to get off the couch and actually vote/act to save this country.

    Wanting to change the Second Amendment in order to pass your desired gun restrictions, admits.. that what you want violates said amendment; If Senators can't craft a bill to expand background checks who actually believes they could successfully and correctly amend the Second Amendment and keep it within its original intent?

    Proposal for The 28th amendment.:
    Congress shall pass no law that applies to the people that does not also equally apply to congress. Also congress shall pass no law that applies to themselves that dose not also equally apply to all citizens.


    May 18, 2013 07:11 pm at 7:11 pm |
  7. Deal Breaker


    What Mr Bloomberg and other elite/rich/or politicians mean when they whine about people owning guns is, it's okay to own a gun or be protected by one if you are the elite/rich/or a politician. If you are poor, you don't deserve to protect yourself. The common man/ the poor need to wait for agents of the State/police to arrive and write a report about the criminal activity or event that took place. The primary function of the police is not to prevent crimes, but to collect information about crimes which recently occurred, investigate, and hopefully close the loop by catching the criminal.

    What is needed and wanted is: One set of rules which grants them power, privilege and luxury & Another set of rules that attack, persecute and terrorize everyone else.

    That's what the elite/rich/or politicians mean when they attack the 2nd Amendment with their "common sense" "common ground" "insert buzzword here and appeal with emotion statement".


    May 18, 2013 07:33 pm at 7:33 pm |
  8. Mike

    With more than 300,000,000 LEGALLY owned firearms in this country ............... if the problem was the guns, don't you think the gun related violence would be going UP instead of being cut by more than half since 1993? Check the statistics released by the United States government.

    May 18, 2013 09:27 pm at 9:27 pm |
  9. Mike

    Two out of three posts not appearing ............. sensorship of the media at it's finest!

    May 18, 2013 09:44 pm at 9:44 pm |
  10. Mike

    Wire taps on Associated Press phone lines created an outrage by the media.... but you can't post a comment on this site. Freedom of the press is obviously not the same of freedom of expression. OR, if you express yourself on this website, it has to be monitored and approved by the media ....... freedom of the press?

    May 18, 2013 09:52 pm at 9:52 pm |
  11. scott

    This flaming liberal is a crack pot, why would a college want a stooge like this speak anyhow.

    May 18, 2013 10:43 pm at 10:43 pm |
  12. Haywood Jabuzzoff

    "increasingly extremist view of the NRA's Washington lobbyists"

    Because nothing is as extreme as the status quo.

    May 19, 2013 01:39 am at 1:39 am |
  13. Col45

    All this debate is useless. Criminals don't follow laws. Hence why they are CRIMINALS! Why do they think that they are going to follow these laws they are trying to introduce. They should be focussing more on the mental health issues and economic issues that are really at the heart of a lot of the violence we see these days.

    May 19, 2013 02:01 am at 2:01 am |
  14. Marie MD

    I take it that the so called press can't find it in their heart to continue to bring up the story about the five year old KY gun owner who shot his sister with the gun giving to him by his useless parents for his fifth birthday?
    Sorry if that offends anyone because he is but a child, but this is what happens when you are irresponsible with your kids.

    May 19, 2013 08:55 am at 8:55 am |
  15. wild man

    he should be ashamed of him self coming into our state on a day that is supposed to be about honoring grads hard work and try to spread his propaganda it makes me sick. go read some crime statics and stay in your own state

    May 19, 2013 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  16. ron coman

    this is the problem that needs to be fixed

    Smith had what police described as "an extensive criminal history," which included arrests for robbery in the first degree in 1999, promoting prison contraband in the second degree in 2000, robbery in the first degree in 2003, assault in the second degree in 2003 and robbery in the second degree in 2003

    May 19, 2013 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  17. ron coman

    and this guy is on the street

    May 19, 2013 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  18. Nana Bell

    Could not agree more. We put men on the moon. Surely we can do something about this gun sickness in this country.

    May 19, 2013 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  19. Name

    Just make murder illegal !

    May 19, 2013 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |