“Words alone cannot heal our nation — only action can do that,” said the New York mayor.
An emotional New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Monday afternoon that if the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School does not inspire action on gun control from the White House and Congress, "it will be a stain on our nation's commitment to protecting the innocent, including our children."
Bloomberg, a staunch and confrontational proponent of gun control, laid out a three-pronged plan for legislative action. The mayor urged the president to enforce stronger background checks on gun sales by executive order, with "a simple stroke of his pen, not needing approval from anybody else," he said.
Bloomberg said it was also time to "pass an enforceable and effective assault weapons ban," which expired in 2004 despite support for reinstatement from President George W. Bush.
Lastly, Bloomberg said the president and Congress "should make gun trafficking a felony," citing the Gun Trafficking Prevention act sponsored by New York Democratic Senator Kirsten Gillibrand.
"This legislative package would make it harder for criminals, drug abusers, and the mentally ill to get guns," said Bloomberg, adding that the three steps would not be a "panacea," but would "go a long way" to limiting gun violence.
The mayor also called on the president to make it "a higher priority" to appoint a director to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, a government department that has not had a confirmed director for six years. "Can you imagine the outrage if the Department of Homeland Security went six years without a director?" said Bloomberg.
"If the massacre in Tucson wasn't enough to make our national leaders act," added Bloomberg, "and if the bloodshed in Aurora, Colorado; in Oak Creek, Wisconsin; in Portland, Oregon; and in other cities and towns wasn't enough — perhaps this slaughter of innocence at Sandy Hook Elementary School will at long last be enough."
Regarding the possibility that Congress and the president will be too tied up with fiscal cliff negotiations to act on gun control, the mayor said, "If Congress and the president can't focus on two things at once, who on earth did we elect?"