Former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg, who is spending $50 million against the powerful U.S. gun lobby, was the target Friday of an angry NRA, which hailed firearm freedoms at its annual convention.
“Mr. Bloomberg, you’re an arrogant hypocrite,” Chris Cox, who heads the National Rifle Association’s lobbying arm, told a crowd of gun enthusiasts who booed upon hearing the former mayor’s name.
Being a billionaire “does not entitle you to tell us how to live our lives,” Cox added about Bloomberg, who did not attend the association’s annual meeting and exhibit in Indianapolis.
“Stay out of our homes, stay out of our refrigerators, and stay the hell out of our gun cabinets, because this freedom is not for sale.”
Along with the U.S. government and media, the NRA has made Bloomberg one of its prime political targets, with his name denigrated on conservative talk radio and on large posters at the convention.
NRA head Wayne LaPierre unveiled an anti-Bloomberg video slamming the politician as an elitist fighting to restrict gun rights.
“This guy thinks he can scare us into running from a fight to protect our rights and our freedoms,” a man says in the clip.
“He’s one guy with millions. We’re millions with our 25 bucks. Let’s see who crushes who.”
LaPierre said one way to counter Bloomberg was for NRA members to flock to the polls to elect lawmakers who support Second Amendment rights.
“The NRA will not go quietly into the night,” LaPierre said, adding that Bloomberg aimed to “spend $50 million to beat us in November.”
Hundreds of exhibitors descended on a convention center here to display thousands of semi-automatic handguns and military-style rifles for sale in the U.S. market.
The NRA is America’s largest gun lobby, claiming one million members, and the event drew several Republican politicians that are considered possible presidential candidates in 2016, including Senator Marco Rubio and Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal.
Bloomberg announced in April that he would spend millions of his personal fortune to help reduce gun violence across the United States, in part by launching an initiative that backs candidates who advocate for firearms control.
The creation of his “Everytown for Gun Safety” group came after Congress failed to pass a hotly contested gun-control law last year, despite a series of mass shootings that shocked the nation.
[Image via Agence France-Presse]