Meet the Press   |  March 24, 2013

Bloomberg ‘cautiously optimistic’ on gun control reform

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg discusses the momentum toward reform of gun control laws and what direction the country is headed with its weapons control policy.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> are. here we are 100 days after newtown this weekend, after this massacre. there is a senate bill . it's moving forward with the assault weapons ban has been taken out of the main bill. it seems doomed in the view of most. here is what you said after newtown when i had an opportunity to ask you some questions about it.

>> the nra 's power is so vastly overrated. the public, when you do the polls, they want to stop this carnage. and if 20 kids isn't enough to convince them, i don't know what would be.

>> the nra 's power does seem to be where it has always been. do you fear that the moment that was create d by newtown has been lost?

>> well, it would be a great tragedy for this country and for tens of thousands of lives if it is lost. having said that, i am cautious cautiously optimistic. i think when you have an issue where 90% of the public, 80% of nra members even, say that they think we should have reasonable checks before people are allowed to buy guns, they all support the second amendment, as do i do. there are an awful lot of people that think that this is one of the great issues of our time. we have to stop the carnage.

>> you see that. you have democrats and republicans who are not moved by these polls.

>> be better able to judge that after the recess. we're running ads around the country. we have people manning phone banks and calling. we're trying to do everything we can to impress upon the senators that this is what the survivors want. this is what the public wants. this is what the 900-plus mayors that are in our organization want. they're the ones that have to deliver safety to the streets every single day. this is what the 1.5 million people who have signed up to our demand a plan website want. i don't think there's ever been an issue where the public has spo spoken so clearly where congress hasn't eventually understood and done the right thing.

>> you don't think the assault weapons ban is going to pass?

>> well, look, we've been fighting since 2007 to get a vote. we are going to have a vote for sure on assault weapons , and we're going to have a vote on background checks and if we were to get background checks it wouldn't be as good as if we got both. but we demanded a plan and then we demanded a vote. we have the plan. we're going to get the vote. it's incumbent on us to make our voices heard.

>> you sound much more resigned. you, after newtown , said the nra a is not as strong as it used to be. the nra is proving to be exactly as strong as it used to be, and here you seem to be celebrating the fact that there is at least a vote but that's a far cry from achieving the result that you said were essential.

>> yeah, well, i think we are going to win this, celebrating in advance isn't the right thing to do. we have to go out. we have a lot of work ahead of us. i don't think we should give up on the assault weapons ban . but clearly it is a more difficult issue for a lot of people. and i don't know that reflects the nra 's power. it may be just that people have different views about assault weapons than they do about background checks . 90% of the people want background checks , period.

>> but you know the nra says, look, if you do that there's a secret agenda that the nra and wayne lapierre talk about which is create a registry of all gun owners . they either want to attack the guns or take them away.

>> he can say whatever he wants. this isn't about wayne lapierre . this is about a public wanting to be safe on their streets. this is about the public having the right to buy arms and the right to protect themselves and the right to use them for sport or hunting. but, also, it's about the public's right to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and the mentally ill . that's in everybody's interests. if you go back to 1999 , wayne lapierre testified on behalf of the nra that background checks were appropriate and should be done and congress back in 1968 actually made them the law of the land , but they don't apply to 40% of the gun sales today. something like 58,000 gun dealers across this country, three times the number of mcdonald's stores, as a matter of fact, there are gun stores every place in this country, and those gun sellers -- they do background checks on all their clients. i think last year 78,000 times the government found reasons to deny people a permit to get a gun based on either they were criminals or they had mental problems. if that doesn't tell you that this is a real problem but good checks can really do something, i don't know what would.

>> let me ask you about in new york the nra has failed a suit to try to defeat some of these gun control measures which are more robust than what the federal government is talk iing about within the states that are about magazines, background checks and assault weapons . how do you react to that?

>> well, anybody has the right to go to court and sue over anything. and in new york lots of people do that every single day. but the supreme court , which is the one that interprets what the constitution actually means and says, has said clearly that reasonable background checks are consistent with the second amendment. that's what in the end is going to stop all of these other suits. if the laws that they are trying to contest are consistent with that, they won't get very far.