HEY, BLOOMIE: YOU WANT SOMETHING TO DO NEXT? TRY THIS
Last night, New York magazine posted its new cover story. It's about Mayor Mike Bloomberg's quest to find meaning in his life when his final term as mayor is winding down and he knows there's no way he'll ever get the job he really wants, which is president of the United States.
Bloomberg's already got some irons in the fire -- he's given a lot of money to the Sierra Club's anti-coal campaign (which, reports say, has been very effective). He's been working with other big-city mayors on various initiatives for their cities. And we're told (by Rahm Emanuel) that one of his "passions" is gun control.
That's been clear for a while. That's a cause to which I wish he would apply his vast fortune, his vast ego, his boundless energy and seemingly limitless sense of his own self-worth. But while he's already putting his mark on other areas of American life, even before leaving office, the gun-control needle remains unmoved, as David Kopel notes at the Volokh Conspiracy:
In April, a Reuters/Ipsos poll found that the National Rifle Association was viewed favorably by 68% of Americans, and unfavorably by 32%.... In each of the demographics which the poll provided -- Republicans, Democrats, independents, whites, and blacks -- the NRA was viewed favorably by at least 55%.
A 2005 Gallup Poll had found a 60/34 favorable/unfavorable view of the NRA. Previous Gallup results were 52/39 (May 2000), 51/39 (April 2000), 51/40 (April 1999, right after the Columbine High School murders), 42/51 (June 1995), and 55/32 (March 1993).
So America thinks the NRA is just swell. Kopel thinks this makes perfect sense -- he points out that when you ask poll respondents whether they want to ban handguns altogether, the notion is as unpopular as the NRA is popular.
But Kopel doesn't tell you that a clear majority of Americans still favor gun control in general. Go to Polling Report and you'll see that, in poll after poll, when voters are asked whether gun laws should be made or less strict, they say the laws should be stricter.
And yet Americans love the NRA, which is precisely the organization that makes stricter gun laws impossible.
Look, I don't love Mike Bloomberg. I think he's a plutocratic control freak. But the NRA has absolute control over America's gun laws, which means that those laws continue to get less and less strict.
Why doesn't Bloomberg get cracking on that? Why doesn't he write an eight-figure check to get an organization up and running that would be an effective counterweight to the gun lobby, and that would expose how the gun lobby actually terrorizes politicians into never, ever voting against its interests? Why doesn't Bloomie inance some lobbyists and some media-ready experts, experts who really know guns and can go toe-to-toe with the gun lobby's talking heads?
Then, maybe, after a Columbine or a Virginia Tech or a Tucson, it might be possible for a gun law or two to be tightened. That's what America wants. But right now, on guns, we can never get what we want. We could use the help of a billionaire.