Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is a big fan of gun-control measures passed in Colorado following the Aurora theater shooting. But he just handed opponents of the laws an easy way to dismiss him as an out-of-touch elitist unfamiliar with the West. To whit: In a just-published interview, Bloomberg implied that Colorado Springs and Pueblo are so rural they don't have roads.
First, some background: Bloomberg, a billionaire who left the NYC mayor's office at the end of 2013, has been among the most vocal members of Mayors Against Illegal Guns, a group that's spent years pushing for gun-control legislation. In this context, he met with Stephen Barton, who was in the Aurora's Century 16 theater during the July 2012 attack there. Barton -- who just happened to grow up ten minutes from Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, where a mass shooting killed 26 people, twenty of them children -- became a gun-control advocate after suffering 25 wounds spread across his face, neck, chest, shoulder, forearm and both hands.
Following the passage of Colorado gun-control laws regarding background checks and more, opponents of the measure targeted Senator John Morse, from Colorado Springs, and Representative Angela Giron, out of Pueblo, for recall -- and both were ultimately voted out of office despite financial support from Bloomberg and associates.
The mayor alludes to these defeats in a Q&A with Rolling Stone magazine. Here's the key excerpt:
n Colorado, we got a law passed. The NRA went after two or three state Senators in a part of Colorado where I don't think there's roads. It's as far rural as you can get. And, yes, they lost recall elections. I'm sorry for that. We tried to help 'em. But the bottom line is, the law is on the books, and being enforced. You can get depressed about the progress, but on the other hand, you're saving a lot of lives.
No surprise that the last part of Bloomberg's message has gotten lost in the misinformation that preceded it. To put it mildly, Colorado Springs and Pueblo aren't road-free zones. Colorado Springs is listed as the 41st largest city in the United States, with a population approaching a half-million, and while Pueblo is smaller (its number 259 on the roster), more than 100,000 people call it home. That may seem like Podunkville to Bloomberg, but not to the vast majority of Americans who live west of the Hudson.
No surprise that conservatives in Colorado are now gleefully treating Bloomberg like a piñata. Colorado Peak Politics writes:
This isn't about technicalities. This is about a mindset. Michael Bloomberg, with his nannystate ways, thinks he knows better than Coloradans, and this statement proves that he has no idea what he's talking about when it comes to Colorado. Even worse is his condescension of the will of the voters in Colorado Springs and Pueblo. The recalled Senators represented the worst in our legislative system -- members who placed the priorities of special interests before the will of the very people they were meant to represent.
Also getting into the act is Republican candidate for governor Bob Beauprez, who said, "Michael Bloomberg's infuriatingly ignorant remarks show how far removed he is from Colorado, and how wrong John Hickenlooper was to let Bloomberg force his radical agenda on Colorado. It's pathetic a New York City Mayor had more influence in our governor's office than our state's sheriffs" -- many of whom filed a thus-far unsuccessful lawsuit intended to invalidate the gun-control laws Bloomberg touts.
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Beauprez should have said one more thing to Bloomberg: "Thank you."
By the way, Politico reported that Rolling Stone pulled the Bloomberg article after the hubbub, then added an update that the piece had accidentally been published early and would be live again on Monday. However, it's currently online. To read the piece in its entirety, click here.
Send your story tips to the author, Michael Roberts.