The Corner

Politics & Policy

Mike Bloomberg vs. the Imaginary All-Powerful Gun Lobby

Democratic presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg addresses a news conference after launching his presidential bid in Norfolk, Virginia, November 25, 2019. (Joshua Roberts/Reuters)

Mike Bloomberg’s Super Bowl ad combined two standard elements of contemporary anti-gun rhetoric: emotionalism and falsehoods. As Kyle Smith points out, the fatuous spot was little more than taste signaling: “Vote for me, I hate the same stuff you hate.” And Reason’s Jacob Sullum points out, the ad is predicated on an obvious lie.

It’s also worth noting, though, that anti-Second Amendment activists always feel the need to portray themselves as Theseus fighting the Minotaur, rather than highly funded powerful political operatives battling millions of ordinary gun owners.

Bloomberg’s ad, for example, informs us that the candidate isn’t afraid to take on “the gun lobby.” Who is?

Let’s put this in perspective.

Bloomberg has, in a just a few months of running for presidency, spent around $200 million in the primary — approximately $194 million more than the NRA spends on an average year in lobbying Congress and approximately $170 million more than the NRA spent on the entire 2016 election.

The $11 million Bloomberg reportedly spent on his Super Bowl is $11 million more than the notorious “gun lobby” has spent on national television advertising, probably over the past decade, if not forever.

That doesn’t even account for the numerous political entities Bloomberg funds, such as “Everytown for Gun Safety,” the gun-control group he co-founded, which announced recently that it is going to spend $60 million on the 2020 elections — or more than the NRA has ever spent in any election cycle ever.

Firearms owners, whose power is derived from their numbers and the pesky constitutional protections that Bloomberg would like to overturn, have a tough time pushing back against the stream of misinformation spread by the anti-gun lobby and the vast majority of journalists who simply ape the same talking points.

The other day, John Kerry, speaking at an event for leading presidential contender Joe Biden, unleashed a litany of absurd gun claims, saying, among other things, that there’s “not a veteran here who would take an AR-16 with a long clip to go out and shoot a deer or shoot anything.” It’s true because there is no such thing as AR-16, as Kerry, who was conflating the military M-16 with the civilian AR to make it sound scarier, knows, or should know. And, of course, hunting has nothing to do with the Second Amendment, so it doesn’t really matter anyway.

Not a single major media outlet reported on Kerry’s nonsense, or any of the other scores of similarly absurd instances of misleading rhetoric, just as no major outlet, as far as I can tell, has fact-checked Bloomberg’s ad. In reality, the purportedly all-powerful “gun lobby” can do very little to fight back against the efforts to mislead voters. Mostly because the all-powerful “gun lobby” is a concoction of politicians too cowardly to take on gun owners directly.

David Harsanyi is a senior writer for National Review and the author of First Freedom: A Ride through America’s Enduring History with the Gun

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