Photo of Michael Bloomberg

Remarks on Gun Policy in Aurora, Colorado

December 05, 2019

Tom, Pastor, thank you very much. I thought while I was just listening, maybe it would be appropriate just to take a pause for 30 seconds, 60 seconds and remember.

I didn't lose anybody so far in my family to gun violence and hopefully never will, but I certainly know a number of people who did. I think all I can do is try to work to make a better world so there will be fewer people and there'll be less need to have people with red shirts in common like this.

I was just looking and wondering how many red shirts I have at home. Probably about a dozen. I used to take one each time after each event, and then I said, 'Wait a second, that's not good use of the shirts.' But they're in my closet and I try to take the one every day when I run, I take the one from the bottom and I assume that when it gets washed it gets put on the top. So I cycle through all of them. So if I have one of your shirts, I do use it actually.

Anyway, it's an honor to speak with you today – and thank you all for being here, and particularly for braving the snow and the rain. I was warned wear a big jacket and have boots. So I brought a set of cowboy boots in my luggage, but I didn't take them out because they didn't have all the snow that you had promised me.

Tom and I just came from the memorial for the victims of the Aurora theater shooting, and I put some flowers down in the middle of the memorial which is where his son is remembered. And all of you have different places that you go to, but we all have the same thing in common, we've lost somebody. And we have to make sure that we build for the future so nobody else has to go through this.

I just can't imagine the pain that one has if you lose a child – it's just unthinkable. And yet you've gone through it and you have the strength and the courage, and some of you deal with it in one way and some of you deal with it another way.

But to see Tom – and so many other survivors – turning their grief into action really is inspiring. I think it's the main thing that you can do in memory of whoever you lost.

It takes incredible strength and courage, I know – and I just want to say how grateful I am for your leadership. You're making the world a better place, and hopefully we don't have to have that many more meetings like this one.

I've worked with Everytown for a long time, I've met survivors across the country, and the number of survivors is just staggering. Every day you pick up the paper today, and there's another shooting. Some are one, some are two, some are big ones.

This year in the United States, 12,000 people will be murdered with illegal handguns and 19,000 people will commit suicide with illegal handguns – 32,000, 33,000, some number along that line. It just has to stop.

No other developed country experiences losses in gun gun violence like we do here in America – not even close.

Thirty-five people a day are murdered with guns. But for decades, too many politicians just ignored the problem.

Now, the reason was partly the power of the NRA, but it was also partly because, let's face it, a lot of politicians view this as a black and Latino problem. And so they just looked the other way. To me it's just disgraceful what they do.

Just think about this, black men make up only six percent of the population – but they make up 52 percent of gun violence victims. More than half.

There's a number of things wrong in our society and we just have to do something about it. These murders usually don't usually make national headlines. But they are national tragedies – and we just can't accept them.

In recent years, more politicians have begun waking up because the killings are happening in their communities, and in their churches and in their malls and in their movie theaters.

Their constituents are losing children, and their voters are demanding action – and voters are electing candidates who are getting things done. If you don't want to be depressed, just think we really are making progress. But we have an enormously long way to do.

Getting things done is what Everytown for Gun Safety is all about. And that's what Tom and other leaders here in Aurora have done, and it's why I'm running for president – just to stop this nationwide madness. That's the only way to describe it.

I don't know, Tom, how you get up every day and remember Alex, but also have the courage to go out and try to make this world a better place. So thank you, and thank everybody here.

This issue is somewhat personal for me. As Tom mentioned, I've gone to an awful lot of eulogies, partially because of all the people killed on 9/11, but after that as 12 years as mayor, unfortunately one of the things you have to do is you have to go and comfort the families and you have to talk about somebody who's deceased that you never met and try to put yourself in the place of the parents. And that's just so hard to do.

Donald Trump accepts this violence and pain. And he and the NRA leaders say that there isn't anything we can do about it. And every time I go to another funeral, I think there has to be something we can do about it.

I don't accept that kids being murdered at school is something that we should be used to. I don't accept that kids getting killed in the streets is something we should get used to. I didn't accept gun violence ripping apart our cities and communities every day, and I am going to do everything I can to change the administration in Washington and fight back against this evil.

It's not the only problem this country has, but it's certainly one that we can focus on today.

When I started working on gun violence some 15 years ago, neither party, neither Republicans or the Democrats, were particularly interested in the issue. In fact, some Democrats voted against the Brady background check bill back in the 1990s, and some even voted to give blanket immunity to the gun industry – something no other industry in the United States has. That really was shameful – and as president, I will work to repeal it.

When I was mayor of New York City, I co-founded the national coalition of Mayors Against Illegal Guns that we talked about before. We enlisted more than 1,000 other mayors from red states and blue states. But even after Democrats won control of both Congress and the White House back in 2008, gun safety just was not a priority – and sadly when we had the opportunity to do something about it it just fell by the wayside.

When I left City Hall in 2014, I didn't walk away from the fight, though – I got even more involved because it seemed to me I had more time and why not devote my life to the same thing that I had when I was Mayor. I helped found Everytown and helped build it into a counterweight to the NRA.

Today, Everytown and Moms Demand Action have an army of six million supporters. Think about that, six million supporters – and they are shaking up politics across the country.

Since last year, 20 states have passed significant new gun laws, including nine signed by Republican governors. So if you just go and knock on the door in your red shirts or you write letters or you pick up the phone and you call, you are making a difference. Elected officials are responsive, they've just got to hear enough people say this is what I want, and this is the reason I'm going to vote for you or not vote for you. And you will get the action that you're demanding.

It took 19 members of Congress who were A-rated by the NRA for us to support candidates to run against them. The 19 were replaced by people who understood that we just cannot continue to kill our young people, and that we have to do something and that they are responsible.

The gun safety champions we helped elect flipped control of the House to Democrats.

I'm happy to say under Nancy Pelosi's leadership, one of the first things the new House did was to pass a strong background check bill. But unfortunately, we have a president who bows down to the extremists who run the NRA, and we cannot tolerate that.

I believe we need a president who has a track record of taking on the NRA, and winning. And you say, why do I think I can do it? Because I've done it.

So today, I just want to touch on a few of the actions that I've taken to do something about this national emergency, rather than just talk about it. I emphasize do something – because my candidacy is about getting things done.

There is just too much talk about gun violence. The movement that we created gets things done. I've given my time to organize and reorganize and pull together resources from local groups across the country, and defeat Republicans who stand in the way, and I can tell you I am just getting started no matter what happens in the next election.

For me, leadership isn't about shaking your fist at the world. Or putting ideas up on a website. It's about bringing people together, to solve problems, and get results. And that's what I want to do as president.

To begin with, if I'm lucky enough to get elected, we're going to overhaul the background check system to make it much more effective. No one should be able to buy a gun without passing a complete background check, and we're going to get that done.

We'll also close loopholes and gaps in the systems – like the one allowing un-married domestic abusers to possess guns, and the one allowing sales to go through if a background check takes longer than three business days, and the one preventing law enforcement from identifying felons and others who own guns illegally.

We'll also be smarter about who can buy guns. For instance, 18- to 20-year-olds are four times as likely to commit a homicide compared to older Americans.

The suicide rate among teens has increased exponentially over the past decade. And in most states, the legal age for purchasing a handgun from a private seller is still only 18.

Think about it, if you have to be 21 to buy a beer, you ought to be 21 at least to buy a hand-gun or any form of semi-automatic firearm.

We'll also work to adopt a 48-hour waiting period for every purchase that is really important in preventing suicides. And we'll adopt a red flag law at the federal level, like the one Tom helped pass right here in Colorado.

One of the biggest problems with the existing background check system has nothing to do with the database. It contains a lot of useful information about criminal history – but most of it can't be used to actually deny a purchase.

And we're going to change that – by requiring buyers to obtain a permit before they purchase a gun because just having a background check isn't enough. The question is, no matter what the background check says, can you stop them from getting a gun when they're a minor, when they have a criminal record, or when they have psychiatric problems.

This permit will allow authorities to screen applicants for dangerous behavior. And I just think about you and I and our conversation before about your son four months ago being shot and killed.

That includes arrests for violence, like assault and domestic violence incidents, or arrests for reckless behavior, like driving while intoxicated.

Now, I know critics will say that Americans shouldn't need a permit to exercise their constitutional rights. But voting is a constitutional right – and we require people to register, to protect the rights of all citizens. This is exactly the same idea, because a criminal with a gun can destroy our right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Permits have worked very well in the 11 states that have adopted them, including New York I'm happy to say – and it's time to make the law of the land take that up.

As president, I will attack gun violence from every angle. I will work with Congress to reinstate the ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, to ban 3-D printing of guns, and to require firearms to be safely secured.

I'll work to give the Consumer Product Safety Commission the authority to adopt minimum gun safety standards. I'll declare gun violence to be a national public health emergency, which will increase the funding available for research. I'll also increase funding for the ATF to conduct enforcement – and for community-based violence intervention programs.

I'll ban guns at all public schools and colleges. I'll work with business leaders to encourage responsible sales practices – and pressure the gun industry to change. And I will do everything in my power to save lives.

Now, my agenda is not some Johnny-come-lately list of borrowed ideas. This is part of my life's work. And I'm just telling you, I will get this done whether I get elected or not.

I have proven in New York that gun safety laws can be passed and that they can be enforced. It takes focus, it takes facts, it takes determination. It takes never backing down.

I know Tom Sullivan isn't backing down. I know all of you are not backing down.

I promise you: I will never back down from this fight. That's the kind of president that this country needs and that you deserve.

Let's face it, it's going to be a very difficult time to reverse four years of cruelty and incompetence. The mind boggles at the thought of reversing eight years of it.

So number one priority is we have to make sure that Donald Trump is not re-elected.

And, number two, we have to stop pulling people apart.

We have to bring people together. We need a president who represents everybody – not one particular political party.

That's why I'm running – and that's the kind of president I will be.

We just have to do something about this, folks. We just cannot keep killing each other and killing our children, and killing our grandchildren, and killing our parents and loved ones and spouses. It's time to say enough is enough. We're just not going to put up with it anymore.

Thank you very much.

Michael Bloomberg, Remarks on Gun Policy in Aurora, Colorado Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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