In towns large and small, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has emerged as the face of gun control in America, says the New York Times. Under his guidance, a coalition called Mayors Against Illegal Guns has grown in little more than a year from a skeletal group of 15 into an organization of 225 leaders of towns and cities that is lobbying Congress to lift restrictions on sharing data about the source of illegal firearms and is sharing strategies to fight gun violence and reduce gun trafficking. On its own, New York City conducted sting operations intended to catch gun dealers making illegal sales.
The National Rifle Association, a lobbying superpower in Washington and many statehouses, has vilified Bloomberg, a Republican, on its Web site and in its publications, putting him on the cover of a widely distributed magazine. The article labeled Bloomberg “a billionaire, Boston-grown evangelist for the nanny state.” Not everyone is critical. “As a new mayor, I've been able to talk to other mayors who have had similar experiences with violent crime,” said Kathy Taylor of Tulsa, Ok., a longtime NRA member who said she does not see a contradiction between her support of gun rights and her work on the gun coalition. She views the coalition as a law enforcement effort to protect her constituents, not as an attempt to diminish the legal right to own a gun. Another new mayor, Byron Brown of Buffalo, said techniques he learned from the coalition are helping Buffalo reduce its homicide rate, which is down 21 percent in 2007.