In his final weeks as mayor of New York City, Michael Bloomberg is getting his last word in on local legislation, from tobacco sales to public Wi-Fi.
Bloomberg has a few words left for Washington, too. The mayor called on Congress to "end the national epidemic of gun violence" during a Thursday press conference, two days before the one-year anniversary the Sandy Hook shooting in Newtown, Conn., that claimed innocent 26 lives.
"It's important that we remember all those that we lost and their families. The anniversary will obviously be a very painful time for them and a painful time, I think, for all Americans," Bloomberg said.
"It's also important to remember that nothing in Washington has changed since Newtown, despite the fact that the vast majority of American people favor basic steps that would help keep guns out of the hands of the mentally ill, criminals, and other dangerous people."
Bloomberg cited some shifts in the debate this year. Several states, including New York and Connecticut, closed loopholes in their own legislation on background checks. The first permanent director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives in seven years was sworn in in spite of the gun lobby's stalling efforts. And President Obama gave the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention the green light to renew research on gun-violence prevention, "ending the long, shameful freeze on such research caused by pressure from the gun lobby and its Washington allies." (Gun supporters argued that the findings from that research contradict the administration's message.)
Still, stricter federal regulations on background checks for gun permits is the endgame, Bloomberg said. So too is a bigger crackdown on gun sellers, many of whom deal in a growing online market.
Bloomberg's tenure may soon be over, but judging from his last words to Congress as mayor, lawmakers won't be seeing the last of him on this issue. "We will keep fighting," he said. "Maybe we'll keep fighting even harder."