New York City ex-mayor Michael Bloomberg, a media tycoon, plans to spends 50 million dollars this year to support a grass-roots political network to mobilize gun-control supporters nationwide.
The new organization, Everytown for Gun Safety, is seen as a move to counter the National Rifle Association (NRA), which has steadfastly opposed tighter restriction on guns. The NRA, which claims 5 million members, spends 20 million dollars annually on political activities, including campaign donations for candidates.
"This is not the battle of dollars," Bloomberg told NBC News on Wednesday. "This is battle for the hearts and minds of America so we could protect our children and protect our innocent people."
Bloomberg's organization will focus on women, especially mothers.
"You've got to work at it piece by piece," he told The New York Times on Tuesday. "One mom and another mom, you've got to wear them down until they finally say, 'Enough.'"
The group plans to launch a "Gun Sense Voter" campaign Wednesday in several U.S. cities, with the goal of mobilizing 1 million voters to support candidates and legislation for gun safety ahead of November congressional and state elections, NBC said.
Following a December 2012 massacre in Newtown, Connecticut, where a 20-year-old man stormed a school, killing 20 children and six educators, President Barack Obama proposed broader background checks, a ban on assault rifles and limits on ammunition capacity. The legislation failed in Congress.
"You can have a ban on assault weapons. But assault weapons kill 400 people a year. They get a lot of press. But its 400 versus 31,000 with handguns," Bloomberg told the Times.
"I think having a gun at home when you have children is really dumb. Kids - we all went and tried to figure out what was in the top shelf of their parents' closet. And we looked in mommy's handbag, under the bed. Kids are inquisitive."
During Wednesday's interview with NBC News, Bloomberg, 72, denied that his financial contribution to a national cause was a prelude to presidential run.
Bloomberg, the billionaire founder of the business news service that bears his name, made almost 14 million dollars in contributions in the 2012 elections to candidates who supported gun control.
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