Mayor Blasts NRA Leadership at Start of St. Louis Convention

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As thousands of gun-loving Americans (and the politicians who crave their votes, including GOP-presidential candidates Mit Romney, Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum) descend on St. Louis today for the start of the NRA Annual Convention, one city mayor isn't having any of it.

Conveniently that mayor is not St. Louis' own Francis Slay. Nope. The mayor with the beef with the NRA is Michael Bloomberg, the political leader of the nation's largest city.

In an opinion piece today in the Daily Beast, the New York mayor blasts the leadership of the NRA for being out of touch with its members -- and society at large -- by refusing to concede on sensible gun legislation designed to keep firearms out of the hands of criminals.

Writes Bloomberg:
As the National Rifle Association gathers in St. Louis for its annual convention, I have a message for its members that its leadership doesn't want them to hear: I agree with you. And it's time for the NRA's Washington-based leadership to start listening to you.

To hear most pundits and political strategists tell it, Americans are hopelessly divided by guns. But we're not. Polls show that NRA members, and gun owners generally, overwhelmingly support common sense steps to ensure that guns are kept out of the hands of criminals...

The problem is that those who claim to speak for gun owners in Washington--including the leadership of the NRA--are out of sync with their members. They are interested in pushing a political ideology, not protecting public safety--and nowhere is that more evident than in the NRA's advocacy for "Stand Your Ground" laws.
Bloomberg goes on to discuss the Trayvon Marton tragedy (a topic that's casting a pall over this year's NRA meeting) and how the passage of "Stand Your Ground" laws (also known as "Shoot First" legislation) have led to a double and tripling of "justifiable homicide" cases in states like Florida, Georgia and Texas.

As a member of the coalition Mayors Against Illegal Guns, Bloomberg writes that he is pushing for "common sense reform" that would close loopholes (like the unchecked sale of weapons at gun shows) that allow criminals easy access to deadly weapons.
Mayors join the coalition because we don't have the luxury of viewing the gun issue as an endless ideological debate. We are pragmatists and problem-solvers, and our first responsibility is protecting public safety. When criminals illegally possess and use guns, people rightly hold us accountable for stopping it. We support the Second Amendment, but we don't hide behind it.
For what it's worth, St. Louis' Francis Slay is also a member of Mayors Against Illegal Guns. But unlike Bloomberg, he's been fairly mute on the NRA's convention here this weekend (probably because of the millions of dollars its expected to generate for the city). He has weighed in -- somewhat -- on the Trayvon Martin controversy. Read his blog post on that topic here.

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