Bloomberg 'optimistic' on background check legislation for gun sales

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg (I) said he sees Capitol Hill momentum for gun-control legislation, a top priority for the outspoken mayor who is active in debates on national policy matters.


"The president and vice president are committed here. There's an awful lot of momentum among both Republican and Democratic, rural and urban and suburban congressmen and senators, and red states and blue states to do something that will protect the public," Bloomberg said on the CBS program "Face the Nation."

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Bills to ban sales of assault weapons and high-capacity magazines face steep hurdles on Capitol Hill. But Bloomberg said he's optimistic about measures to broaden background checks, and called that the most pressing need.

He said that 14 states mandate background checks for all sales, and that those states have much lower suicide rates and numbers of women killed by domestic violence. 

But the federal law has loopholes for gun show and internet sales, he noted.

"I think the FBI, last year, turned down something like 80,000 requests to buy a gun because people either were minors, had criminal records, substance abuse problems, or mental problems, and that's what federal law prohibits gun dealers form selling to those people. And that's exactly what we should expand and I'm optimistic that Congress will do something,” Bloomberg said.

Efforts in the Senate to craft a bipartisan deal on a background-check bill deadlocked last week over GOP concerns that the bill would create a federal registry of gun owners.

Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said he would move forward with the bill after negotiations with Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) stalled. 

Schumer said he would introduce an updated version of the Fix Guns Check Act of 2011, which would require a background check for virtually every gun sale and require private sellers to verify that potential buyers are not prohibited from purchasing a firearm.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) last week introduced legislation that aims to prevent those suffering from mental illness from purchasing firearms. The bill would require courts to flag individuals deemed mentally ill to the federal background check database.