Mike Bloomberg: More Bucks for Less Bangs

I try to approach contentious political issues with an open mind, willing to be swayed by new evidence, or at least willing to acknowledge that the other side has some valid points. Surely my ideological opponent has logical thoughts, given their starting principles, right?

My hero this morning

I have no monopoly on good ideas, I remind myself, and the other side usually isn’t crazy. At the same time, people who I largely agree with, I also remind myself, deserve a skeptical look every once in a while. I think it’s a good idea to disagree with my ideological allies on a regular basis, because I’m a contrarian and it helps to sharpen my ideas.

I hope this makes me not wishy-washy but, rather, nuanced. I want to be a complex thinker. Most things in the world are not black and white.

And then there is the issue of guns in America.

Stricter gun control, for me, is what a hero of mine calls a PMC – a Position of Moral Clarity. When it comes to gun control, I’m not interested in your nuance, your different starting principles. Don’t tell me about your 2nd Amendment Rights.

Paul Farmer: He has PMCs

James Madison and Thomas Jefferson did not contemplate automatic weapons and ammo that could be picked up at a traveling gun show with a gym-membership ID card. Our right to “A Well-Regulated Militia” is a far cry from the angry 19-year old with an anti-social personality disorder, irregular access to mental health care, and an addiction to playing Call of Duty.

Fuck that.  Kids are slaughtered in schools. Soldiers are shot on their own home bases. Office workers are cut down in their own workplaces. Cops are fired on regularly by people who should never be armed in the first place. Every week.

In other countries in the world – so-called ‘developed’ or so-called ‘developing,’ it doesn’t matter – their weekly violent episodes do not involve automatic weapons. Their mentally ill citizen hurt others with their fists, or possibly, a knife. The result in other countries is hospitalization and trauma, but not mass terror and death, like we have in this country. Every. week.

When I think about the gun control issue, I get so angry I start spitting, because it all seems so intractable. The only other time I wrote about this – in the wake of the Sandy Hook killings of elementary school children and their teachers in December 2012 – I noted that gun control advocates have absolutely zero chance of making an impact while they get out-spent by the NRA 100 to 1.  The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence spent $20,000 in federal lobbying in 2012, compared to the NRA’s $2.2 million, according to opensecrets.org.

But today’s rant is not just another angry and sad one, because the finance side of this story just got better.

The New York Times reports today that Mike Bloomberg will dedicate $50 million of his fortune to seeding gun control advocacy organizations. Bloomberg will specifically target grass-roots organizations on the MADD model – groups founded and energized by pissed-off moms. One of these groups sprung up recently in my city, and this seems to me a great beginning. Bloomberg’s pledge is certainly not going to win the war against the gun lobby, but if the moms groups can get a running start, we’ve got a start at least.

So, I’m fired up this morning about the power of money to do good, especially Bloomberg’s money. He’s my hero today.

Two other inspirational quotes that fit my mood.

Some people have a way with words

As another angry man once said: “Now, this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.”

And then there’s my favorite mom-power clip of Maggie Gyllenhaal at 2:20 to 2:27 – this gets me fired up every time:

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9 Replies to “Mike Bloomberg: More Bucks for Less Bangs”

  1. Thanks for the article. It’ll be the last one I read on this blog. I thought you had more common sense. It’s funny that someone that claims to be in the financial industry, and therefore has some intelligence, cannot recognize outlawing a piece of metal and moving parts is the solution. If Bloomberg is your hero in this crusade, you’re following a small figure (in intellect and stature). Don’t every try to interpret what you think the framers meant with their statement. If a government gets too tyrannical and controlling, it is up to the armed citizens to take back their country. What don’t you understand about this?

  2. Setting aside all of the highly visible shootings that have occurred, Bloomberg has this pesky track record of paternalistic restrictions that are simply over-broad and tend to not do anything to remedy his purported issues. While I want no unjustified violence to be brought to any person, I believe Bloomberg and his public relations executive Shannon Watts would do more good for themselves and their fellow citizens if they didn’t discriminate against (or in favor of) certain kinds of crimes. But, alas, gun control advocates operate from a base of emotion and always come up short on facts; they also come up with startling and juicy media-bait, not to mention agitprop.

    I am not a member of the NRA, nor am I a member or contributor to any firearm organization.
    I do own firearms and I shoot them regularly (not at people).
    I closely follow all firearm laws.

    1. Todd, thanks for your comment. I know we agree on a bunch of things and we can disagree on this one. I agree that I operate from a base of emotion about the gun control issue.
      Bloomberg has taken controversial stands against certain behaviors (smoking, sugary sodas) that some find paternalistic from a personal liberty standpoint and others find visionary from a public health standpoint. Those issues are easier for me to see both sides of.

  3. When guns are outlawed ONLY outlaws will have guns.
    In other words, the general public will be AT THEIR MERCY.

    I would strongly suggest anyone against gun ownership
    to review honest studies about how many crimes are prevented and stopped by gun owners vs those killed in situations where insane or crazy people get weapons and kill. I just read in the Ft Worth paper several days ago about a woman who caught a serial child abuser (exposer) and shot him 5 times. He survived and the article noted he was just sentenced to 70 years in prison.

    I also remember reading a year or so ago about a family member of British parliament being held up at gunpoint in the UK. The UK has very strict gun laws. So the only people in the UK (outside police of course) that have guns are the outlaws.

  4. To start this off, I have to point out that if you think the founders never envisioned automatic weapons for the people, they certainly did not envision them for the government. Their thought was not that the government should be allowed increase its own armament but to disallow the people the same right. It was the duty of citizens at the time to protect themselves and their country against enemies. At the time, that surely included the government.

    Never forget that Hitler used Germany’s national gun registration to locate and disarm citizens so that he could persecute whomever he pleased.

    If you’re looking for a present day demonstration, take the Bundy ranch. Whether you think the Bundy ranch broke the law or is fighting for freedom, the success of the citizen militia is exactly why I believe guns in the hands of the people are necessary. The people in this nation aren’t forced to simply roll over and accept anything that anyone with superior force tells them, whether this force is of foreign control or domestic. When federal agents declared “1st amendment areas” trying to directly restrict free speech, the citizen militia was able to disobey because they were armed. If the population of Ukraine and Crimea were armed, they would not simply have allowed Russia to lay claim to their land, unless it was their choice. Imagine if Canada tried to invade Montana.

    I would also ask what you are trying to accomplish by controlling who can own guns and of what type. I will refrain from citing all the statistics proving that the original assault weapons ban was ineffective in lowering bullet wounds. If your goal is to save children, I would say ban swimming pools. Three times as many children die each year from drowning than from a bullet. When people claim anti-gun folk are emotional and not rational, this is the statistic that always comes to mind to myself. You also need to realize that assault weapons cause drastically, hundreds of times, less casualties that handguns.

  5. I generally avoid using statistics relating to firearms. However, the swimming pool to firearm fatality metric is very illuminating. The expected response is “you can’t take a swimming pool into a school and use it to massacre a bunch of kids and teachers.” Back and forth it goes.

  6. I’m on the emotional side too. However after reading the other readers comments, it kinda makes me wonder if a ban on firearms actually makes sense :s. It would need to be maybe a world wide ban, nobody gets access. But then the potential problem of a single outlaw potentially getting his hand on a firearm and then being overpowered. Hence why deterrence sounds like a good thing.
    On a related note, I’m from Venezuela, developing/third-world country, infinite amounts of oil (that amount to nothing looks like). At least there, there is no such thing as just getting just a trauma or a headbump for petty crimes, on the contrary, they will kill you for your phone, shoes, a pair of flashy earrings, your wallet or nothing at all. During the day, night, middle of the highway traffic, school, home, anywhere.
    In Venezuela is 400+ deaths per week, out of which 90% are not prosecuted. And there is no religions war, terrorism war, civil war or similar.

    However, if not banning then for sure those millions of dollars can still be put to work for the greater good.

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I founded Bankers Anonymous because, as a recovering banker, I believe that the gap between the financial world as I know it and the public discourse about finance is more than just a problem for a family trying to balance their checkbook, or politicians trying to score points over next year’s budget – it is a weakness of our civil society. For reals. It’s also really fun for me.

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