Photo Credit: Chris Hondros/Getty Images
First he came for your salt, and then he came for your 16 oz. sodas. Now, New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg has set his sights (pun intended) on your guns. In the aftermath of the Aurora, Colorado movie theatre massacre, Mayor Bloomberg wasted no time in taking to the media to push his political agenda. Hey, why let a devastated community mourn their dead and tend to their injured in peace when there are political points to be scored?
Appearing on CNN’s “Piers Morgan Tonight” earlier this week, Bloomberg engaged in an alarmingly ignorant display of the “Rahm Emanuel Rule”: Never let a serious crisis go to waste. Bloomberg told Morgan:
“I don’t understand why the police officers across this country don’t stand up collectively and say, ‘We’re going to go on strike. We’re not going to protect you unless you, the public, through your legislature, do what’s required to keep us safe.’”
Brilliant idea! Let’s make an already jittery nation feel even worse by floating a horrible idea with one clear goal: to score cheap political points.
Unlike Bloomberg, both President Obama and Mitt Romney did the right thing and put the personal over the political. Obama visited with grieving families in Aurora and Romney expressed his deep sorrow at the events that had taken place. This is the kind of strong, steady leadership that is needed in the wake of such tragedies and both men should be commended for taking the high road.
But this was not good enough for Bloomberg, who opined:
“You know, soothing words are nice, but maybe it’s time that the two people who want to be President of the United States stand up and tell us what they are going to do about it, because this is obviously a problem across the country.”
If we disregard the crassness of Bloomberg’s sentiment and his poor timing (maybe he needs a Big Gulp with extra salt?), perhaps he has a point. It is an election year, after all, and people will naturally take a closer look at how such tragedies can be prevented. The candidates themselves must surely have some ideas.
Strangely enough, neither Obama nor Romney seems inclined to make gun issues a central theme of their presidential campaigns. Obama, who voted in favor of gun control measures as a state senator in Illinois, has voiced his support of the Second Amendment and its protections of gun rights. For his part, Romney, who signed a ban on semi-automatic weapons while governor of Massachusetts, has talked of the need for better background checks to make sure guns don’t get into the hands of people who should not have them.
His relative silence on this issue is almost certainly the result of a political calculation by Obama, whose “bitter clingers” remark from the 2008 campaign has not been forgotten. And Romney, who gave a well-received speech to the NRA convention a few months back, knows he has the bitter clinger vote all sewn up and needs to keep hammering Obama where he is most weak – his handling of the economy. With just over three months until the election, both candidates know who their audience is and who it is not.
On a final note, a friend of mine had this reaction to the tragedy in Aurora: It’s what fills the heart, not the hand. The fact that James Holmes rigged his apartment with explosives shows that his heart – or lack of one -- led him to seek the destruction of others, be it by gun or other means. Sadly, this kind of evil cannot be legislated away.
Teri Christoph is the co-founder of Smart Girl Politics, a non-profit organization for conservative women, and co-chair of She-PAC, a hybrid PAC supporting conservative women candidates. A graduate of the University of Maryland at College Park, she lives in Leesburg, VA with her husband and four children. Follow her on Twitter: @TeriChristoph.