Presidential hopeful Mike Bloomberg lays out national gun control plan in Colorado church

Former New York City mayor and newly minted Democratic presidential hopeful Mike Bloomberg came to Aurora on Thursday to unveil an ambitious blueprint to reduce gun violence in America, including reinstatement of a federal ban on assault weapons, passage of a nationwide red flag law and the requirement that every gun buyer first get a permit.

Bloomberg, who for years has poured tens of millions of dollars into gun control efforts across the nation, sat down with victims of gun violence and family members of people killed in mass shootings at Heritage Christian Center, which sits right behind the Century 16 movie theater — the place where a gunman killed 12 people during a midnight movie in 2012.

In attendance with Bloomberg Thursday was State Rep. Tom Sullivan, whose son Alex was killed in that shooting. Sullivan was targeted for recall by gun rights advocates earlier this year — an effort that failed spectacularly.

Bloomberg’s plan focuses on five basic tenets: more effective background checks, keeping guns out of the wrong hands, banning assault weapons, increased funding for enforcement of gun laws and violence intervention programs, and repealing the 2005 law that granted broad legal immunity to gun manufacturers whose products are used in a shooting.

“I’ve been all in on the fight against gun violence for 15 years – and I’m just getting started,” the billionaire businessman said in a statement Thursday. “As president, I will work to end the gun violence epidemic once and for all. My agenda will make it harder for criminals to get guns, make families and communities more secure, and give law enforcement the tools to save lives – and, working with Congress, I will get the job done.”

Colorado has been at the center of the national gun debate, given its role as the site of several mass killings and school shootings over the last two decades. Bloomberg, who co-founded Mayors Against Illegal Guns, helped fund a 2013 effort by Democratic lawmakers in Colorado to pass gun control measures that limited the number of rounds in magazines and put in place a background checks law.

The bills prompted a backlash by gun rights advocates, who mounted successful recall efforts that ousted two state senators who had voted in favor of the legislation — the first successful recall of a state lawmaker in Colorado’s history.

Bloomberg, through his Everytown for Gun Safety Action Fund, injected $2.5 million into Colorado elections last year. Initially backing Democratic candidate Mike Johnston in his race for governor, the group eventually endorsed Gov. Jared Polis in the general election.

Everytown endorsed Jason Crow in his quest for the 6th Congressional District seat that centers on Aurora and spent more than $750,000 in the race. The Democrat defeated longtime incumbent Mike Coffman, who had the backing of the gun lobby and last week became mayor of Aurora.

Bloomberg’s group also played a role in passing Colorado’s controversial red-flag this year. The law, which goes into effect on Jan. 1, allows family members or law enforcement to ask a judge to order a person’s firearms be temporarily confiscated because they pose an immediate safety threat to themselves or others.

Colorado joined 17 other states in passing such a law. But the red-flag law, also known as an extreme risk protection order law, has generated fierce resistance from some sheriffs in the state, who vowed to ignore what they feel is a law that violates Americans’ Second Amendment right to bear arms.

More than two dozen counties in Colorado declared themselves Second Amendment sanctuary counties after the bill was signed into law.

Bloomberg’s plan also calls for ending the private sale loophole of firearms, limits the purchase of handguns and semi-automatic rifles and shotguns to people 21 and older, requires gun buyers to wait at least 48 hours before any firearm purchase, and imposes a ban on all guns in K-12 schools, colleges, and universities — except for law enforcement.

Bloomberg, who ranks as one of the world’s richest people, entered the race for the Democratic presidential nomination last month. He is competing with more than a dozen other Democrats for the chance to take on President Donald Trump in 2020.

*story by The Denver Post