New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg on Tuesday urged President Obama to "lead from the front" on gun control regardless of whether any White House proposal for more restrictive laws gets passed by Congress.
“We always have an agreement that something needs to be done, that’s a cover for nothing,” Bloomberg said on "Morning Joe." “No. 1, it’s the president’s job to promote a plan that satisfies the needs of the country. He is the commander-in-chief – he’s the consoler-in-chief – but he’s the commander-in-chief. Whether the legislation that he proposes gets passed or not, that shouldn’t be his first consideration.”
Bloomberg, the co-chairman of Mayors Against Illegal Guns, has emerged as one of the foremost advocates of stricter gun laws in the wake of last week's rampage at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., that left 20 children and six adults dead.
Bloomberg argued that regardless of whether a proposal from the president had a chance of becoming law, it was Obama’s duty to get something out there.
“I’m not unsympathetic to the realities of getting things through Congress, I’m not unsympathetic to the fact that the press calls an elected official a failure if their legislation doesn’t get passed,” he continued.
“But you have to stop and think — what’s the difference between a legislator and an executive? A legislator’s job is to sort of split the baby … make sure everybody gets something. That’s not an executive’s job. The executive says, ‘this is what we’re going to do’ and then convinces people to come along. Leads from the front and not from the back.”
Specifically, Bloomberg pointed to the Department of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, which has been without a director for six years, and said Obama should fill the slot in a recess appointment if Congress threatened to block a potential nominee. He also said the federal government should go after rogue gun dealers, and should prosecute those who lie on gun applications.
On Sunday, President Obama gave a personal and emotional speech in Newtown at an interfaith vigil for friends and families of the victims. The president didn’t specifically call for new gun-control legislation, but signaled he would support an effort pledged by Democratic lawmakers to restrict the sale of assault weapons and high-capacity clips of ammunition.
“In the coming weeks I’ll use whatever power this office holds to engage my fellow citizens from law enforcement, mental-health professionals to parents and educators in an effort aimed at preventing more tragedies like this,” Obama said.
On Monday, the White House looked to mobilize public support for the president’s efforts by using the Obama campaign’s email list, sending supporters a message directing them to a video of the president’s speech.
In the email, senior Obama campaign adviser David Axelrod called on supporters to “consider how each of us can play a part in making our country worthy of the memory of those little children.”
Also on Monday, the president directed Vice President Biden to lead members of the Cabinet in proposing measures to help reduce gun violence.