Entries in Michael Bloomberg (9)


Bloomberg Blasts NRA: 'Connecticut Is Because of Some of Their Actions'

Michael Loccisano/FilmMagic(NEW YORK) -- New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg Thursday placed partial blame on the National Rifle Association for the Connecticut elementary school massacre in which 20 children and six adults were gunned down last week.

"We're not trying to take away your right to advance the interests of gun owners, hunters, people who want to protect themselves," Bloomberg told Nightline anchor Cynthia McFadden in an interview Thursday. "But that's not an absolute right to encourage behavior which causes things like Connecticut. In fact, Connecticut is because of some of their actions."

In the days after the massacre, the NRA has remained silent, only speaking up Wednesday to announce it would hold a press conference on Friday morning. But in the meantime, people with various stances on guns, from stark anti-gun advocates to Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.V., a pro-gun politician who famously shot a cap-and-trade bill with a rifle in a 2010 re-election ad, are clamoring for something to be done.

"I think the public has finally come to the conclusion that, what the Supreme Court said you can do is have reasonable restrictions on the right to bear arms, is something that our society finally has woken up and said, 'We are going to do this whether you like it or not,'" Bloomberg said.

In 2007, Bloomberg was one of 50 mayors who gathered in Washington, D.C., to demand that Congress eliminate a law that restricts the ability of local police to trace criminals' weapons. At the time, gun advocates claimed the law, which was an amendment attached to the House appropriations bill in 2003, infringed on their Second Amendment rights.

But if he had his preference, Bloomberg said he would go farther than the 1994 ban and outlaw all automatic and semi-automatic weapons and high-capacity magazines. The mayor said magazines shouldn't be allowed to contain more than five or even three rounds.

"If you haven't hit the deer with three shots, you're a pretty lousy shot. The deer deserves to get away," he said.

Bloomberg said he doesn't absolve the public, including himself, for waiting until a massive tragedy to take national action on gun control.

"I hold you and me responsible," Bloomberg said, "We didn't pay attention to what our legislators were doing, [the NRA] as well... we have let our society degenerate -- our country degenerate to the point where we have a murder rate that you cannot compare it to other countries."

Police say Adam Lanza, 20, entered Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., on the morning of Dec. 14, and used three firearms to kill 26 people before turning a gun on himself.

The weapons police recovered from the scene included a Bushmaster .223 semi-automatic rifle, a Glock 9-mm handgun and a Sig Sauer 9-mm handgun. A fourth weapon was found in the shooter's car in the school parking lot. All of the weapons were legal and registered to Lanza's mother, Nancy Lanza, police said.

According to the FBI Uniform Crime Report, 47,856 people were murdered in the U.S. by firearms between 2006 and 2010.

President Obama announced Wednesday that Vice President Joe Biden, who was formerly the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee and a leader on the original Federal Assault Weapons Ban in the '90s, would lead a task force to formulate a package of gun control policy recommendations and collect proposals that will curb an "epidemic of gun violence."

While Bloomberg, who endorsed Obama for president, praised his decision to have Biden work on a plan, the mayor took Obama to task, saying in the last four years the president has "gone in the wrong direction" on guns.

"[President Obama] signed two pieces of legislation, one which lets you carry guns in national parks where our kids play," Bloomberg said. "And the other one, he signed a bill so that you can carry a gun on Amtrak. I assume that's to stop the rash of train robberies, which I thought stopped in the 1800s."

Several politicians have also vowed to introduce new gun control legislation when Congress starts a new session in January. But Bloomberg called Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer's proposal this week to make greater use of the National Guard to provide more safety in schools "ridiculous."

"You don't want your kids to think that everybody in America is a bad person and that we are locking ourselves down and that we live like we're in a prison," Bloomberg said. "Our National Guard has other things to do. Putting more guns in schools, I mean, the National Guard is not the answer to everything."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


NYC Mayor Pushes for Sandy Relief Funds in Washington

Michael Loccisano/FilmMagic(WASHINGTON) -- Trying to inject some urgency into getting new federal aid for victims of Hurricane Sandy, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg met with several lawmakers in Washington Wednesday.

"Our reception was very good. Everyone I met with understands the severity of the damage and the importance of helping," Bloomberg said after meeting with members of Congress.

New York State officials think Hurricane Sandy inflicted $42 billion worth of damage in the state, with nearly half of that in New York City.  Mayor Bloomberg hopes others will spring into action to help New York recover as they have in the past.

"America's come to New York's assistance before and I think New York has an admirable record in trying to come to assistance of other people around this country. We're all Americans. This is not a partisan thing," he said.

But one lawmaker calls it a "hard sell," especially since Congress is wrestling with the nation's budget. New York Democratic Sen. Charles Schumer says the appropriations requests should be substantial.

"We want the first to be as large as it can be, as large as the damage we know we already have…and that number will grow," Schumer said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Bloomberg vs. Booze: Will Mayor Take on Alcohol Use?

Michael Loccisano/FilmMagic(NEW YORK) -- Mayor Mike Bloomberg is famous for curbing the city’s smoking, soda, and greasy food habits with legislation, but New Yorkers are now wondering whether Bloomberg has set his next target on a different vice: alcohol.

A 50-question survey focusing on New Yorkers’ drinking habits is being formulated by the Department of Health, and will be used to try and understanding alcohol use and abuse in the city through telephone surveys, according to the mayor’s office.

A spokesman for Bloomberg said that the office is not currently working on any reform or legislation, and that the Health department surveys New Yorkers about health topics frequently.

“The focus of what they ask is about underage drinking. They’re working on the survey. There is no legislation at this time, they’re working to get a handle on what is happening,” said Mark Lavorgna.

Bloomberg has previously introduced legislation banning New Yorkers from smoking in bars and public places, banning the use of trans fats in food preparation, forcing restaurants to post calorie counts on advertised food items, and limiting the size of soft drinks to 16 oz. in restaurants and convenience stores.

All but the soda ban has been passed into law.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Obama Signs Beam at One World Trade Center

JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/GettyImages(NEW YORK) -- President Obama and the First Lady got a firsthand look Thursday at the new skyscraper being built to replace the World Trade Center towers destroyed in the September 11 attacks.

“It looks beautiful,” the president said to his wife as they glanced out a window on the 22nd floor to the National September 11 Memorial below.

After touring the new One World Trade Center, the president thanked the workers for building the “incredible structure,” which will rise to a symbolic 1,776 feet to become the tallest skyscraper in the Western Hemisphere.

“We couldn’t be prouder of you guys. This is what the American spirit is all about,” the president told the hard-hat wearing construction workers, according to reports.

The president, who was also joined by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, then signed one of the final steel beams to be installed in the building with a message to all Americans.

“We remember. We rebuild. We come back stronger! Barack Obama,” the president wrote.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Bloomberg Blasts NRA over ‘Stand Your Ground’ Laws

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg called for the nationwide reform or repeal of Stand Your Ground laws Wednesday at an event in Washington, D.C. to announce the Second Chance on Shoot First campaign.

The campaign is intended to prevent killings like that of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, and Bloomberg blamed the National Rifle Association for the Florida law that many feel empowered George Zimmerman to shoot the unarmed Martin.

“In reality the NRA’s leaders weren’t interested in public safety. They were interested in promoting a culture where people take the law into their own hands and face no consequences for it. Let’s call that by its real name, vigilantism,” he said. "The NRA should be ashamed of themselves. This has nothing to do with gun owners' rights. It has nothing to do with the Second Amendment.”

Bloomberg, who was joined by civil rights leaders and Florida State Sen. Chris Smith, said the laws had undermined the justice system and have done harm to public safety.

“They justify civilian gunplay and invite vigilante justice and retribution with disastrous results,” he said.

ABC News reached out to the NRA for comment, but it has yet to respond.

Two dozen states have enacted laws similar to the one in Florida, and while the laws vary from state to state, most grant varying degrees of immunity to anyone who uses deadly force in self-defense.

Bloomberg cited statistics from the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to show an increase in justifiable homicides after the Stand Your Ground laws went into effect.

In Florida, he said, justifiable homicides increased from 12 per year to 36 per year when the five years before and after the passage of the law were compared.

Bloomberg was also joined by former Army Major Jon Soltz, the chairman of Soltz said that U.S. soldiers fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan had a higher standard of when to use deadly force than Americans who lived in states with Stand Your Ground laws.

“There is no shoot first law for our troops in Iraq or Afghanistan. We cannot just shoot somebody because they have a hijab on in Iraq and kill them and say we’re scared. Everybody in Iraq has a weapon and all U.S. forces are always scared,” Soltz said. "This is a legal protection in these states that is actually afforded to Mr. Zimmerman that is not afforded to our troops in combat. Unless I’m wrong I didn’t think Florida was a war zone.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


NYPD Can Shoot Down Planes, but with What?

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The NYPD is capable of shooting down planes in the event of another 9/11-style attack on New York City, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Monday, but it's unknown exactly what weapons the police have at their disposal, and whether their arsenal includes surface-to-air missiles.

"The NYPD has lots of capabilities that you don't know about and you won't know about," Bloomberg told reporters Monday, echoing recent comments by police commissioner Ray Kelly.

"Do you mean to say that the NYPD has the means to take down an aircraft?" Kelly was asked by 60 Minutes on Sunday.

"Yes," he replied, "I prefer not to get into details, but obviously, this would be in a very extreme situation."

It would have to be an extreme situation, given the danger of shooting down a large plane over a heavily populated area like New York City. It's also not entirely clear legally, whether cops -- unlike the military -- could shoot at an unarmed jet.

Neither Bloomberg nor Kelly would specify what weapons the NYPD has its disposal. Many believe New York's top cop was referring to the helicopter-mounted Barrett .50 caliber rifle, known since 2005 to be in the city's counter-terrorism arsenal.

The Barrett, a high-powered sniper rifle, could easily disable a car, truck or small plane, and is often used by the Coast Guard to stop boats carrying drugs, but it likely could not take down a large commercial passenger jet, like those flown into the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001.

To shoot down a large jet, the NYPD would almost certainly need to use a missile or a large caliber machine gun. The NYPD would not confirm to ABC News which weapons Bloomberg and Kelly were referring to, or were in the city's arsenal.

Bloomberg said there was "not any one technology, not any one weapon" that the city would rely on completely in the event of an air attack.

"The main thing that keeps us safe is the 55,000 people who work for the police department," he said. "The 1,000 dedicated to intelligence and counterterrorism. The 35,000 who are uniformed and on the street every day." The mayor added that the city spends $8.5 billion on policing annually.

During the 9/11 attacks, U.S. Air Force jets were scrambled, but they required the approval of the president to fire on hijacked planes. Requests for comment on who is currently empowered to authorize a shootdown if New York City faced an imminent threat were not immediately answered by the NYPD.

In the ten years since 9/11 the NYPD has made counterterrorism a top priority, taking into its own hands operations that were once solely within the purview of the federal government, including gathering intelligence overseas and acquiring military-grade weapons.

Lower Manhattan today is carefully watched 24-hours a day by a $150 million network of some 1,000 closed-circuit cameras, and another 2,000 are expected to soon dot other parts of the city.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


America Marks 10th Anniversary of 9/11 Attacks at Ground Zero

Justin Lane-Pool/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The flag that survived the 9/11 attacks at the World Trade Center and was raised at ground zero in the days after Sept. 11, 2001, returned to the site Sunday, unfurled by New York police officers and firefighters at the start of the 10-year anniversary memorial ceremony.

President Obama and former President George W. Bush, seated with their wives behind a glass shield at the site, watched as bagpipers led the first responders and families of victims into the site and a chorus sang the national anthem.

New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg opened the ceremony with the first city-wide moment of silence at 8:46 a.m. to commemorate the moment when American Airlines Flight 11 struck the north tower.  Obama then read from Psalm 46, which starts, "God is our refuge and strength."

The ceremony will be punctuated by six moments of silence in all, one for each of the moments when the four planes crashed, and one for the moments when each of the towers fell.

Family members of the more than 3,000 people killed in the attacks stood shoulder-to-shoulder in the crowded memorial plaza, wearing T-shirts emblazoned with loved ones' faces and names, after making their way back Sunday morning to the site where the twin towers once stood.

They joined firefighters, police officers and emergency workers at the 9/11 Memorial in Lower Manhattan on Sunday for the 10th anniversary of Sept. 11.  The annual ceremony, in which the names of the nearly 3,000 people killed in the attacks are read aloud, took place for the first time at the newly completed memorial plaza, with two fountains in place of where the two towers once stood.

Six moments of silence were held in all, one for each of the moments when the four planes crashed, and one for the moments when each of the towers fell.

The moment of silence recognizing when the second plane -- United Flight 175 -- hit the south tower was followed by cheers erupting for Bush as he read from a letter Abraham Lincoln wrote, quoting, "The solemn pride that must be yours, to have laid so costly a sacrifice upon the altar of freedom."

The ceremony also included performances by Yo-Yo Ma, James Taylor and Paul Simon.

Police and security presence at the memorial and throughout Lower Manhattan remained significant; police dogs and armed guards were present throughout the ceremony.  New York City Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly told ABC News that there was no new information on a terror plot, but "no reason to lessen our alert status."

Sunday's ceremony will conclude at around 1 p.m. with three trumpeters, one each from the New York Police Department, the Fire Department of New York, and the Port Authority Police Department, playing taps.

After the ceremony, Obama will attend memorials in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, and at the Pentagon in Washington.  He will also attend a Concert for Hope at the Kennedy Center in D.C. Sunday night, where he will deliver a 15-minute speech on the attacks.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


NYC Survives the Wrath of Hurricane Irene

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The 370,000 New York City residents ordered to evacuate their homes as Hurricane Irene approached were allowed to return Sunday afternoon as city officials breathed a sigh of relief that the storm did not bruise the Big Apple as badly as predicted.

"The good news is the worst is over," Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Sunday.

The mayor reported that subway tunnels were not flooded, saying that the city's decision to close transit lines early Saturday had helped.

"We dodged a bullet there," he said.

Officials are still unsure when the mass transit system will reopen, but the mayor said it was likely that limited service would be available for the Monday morning commute.

In another bit of good news for the city, crime was much lower than usual Saturday night, with only 45 arrests, Bloomberg said. On a typical Saturday night in August, there are 345 arrests, he said.

Water from New York's East River breached the seawall in parts of lower and midtown Manhattan. Work crews swarmed the affected areas, attempting to halt water from flowing down the streets, where it could affect transformers in lower Manhattan and flood into the subway system.

City officials estimated that there were more than 700 trees down, split, or uprooted throughout the five boroughs.

Sections of the New York State Thruway, the Henry Hudson Parkway, the FDR Drive, and the Belt Parkway were closed Sunday morning due to flooding.

The evacuation orders left many parts of the city, including parts of lower Manhattan, looking like a ghost town. People in low-lying neighborhoods from Battery Park in southern Manhattan to Coney Island and the Rockaway beaches were ordered to leave their homes. City workers even entered high-rise housing projects to deliver the message personally.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg: US Default Would Damage 'America's Word'

The City of New York(NEW YORK) -- New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg believes America's reputation as the most reliable financial standard would be at risk if the U.S. does not raise the debt ceiling by Aug. 2, and he is willing to see his taxes increase in order to reach a long-term budget agreement.

"I don't think anybody will look ever again at America and the dollar as the reserve currency, where this is the standard by which all other risks are measured," if the U.S. defaults on its debt obligations, Bloomberg told This Week anchor Christiane Amanpour. "It's one seismic event that says you can never depend 100 percent on America's word anymore."

"The world won't come to an end," Bloomberg added. "We will find a way to pay people afterwards and get government going again, but it puts a doubt in the back of people's minds that you would find it very difficult to erase."

Bloomberg does not believe that spending cuts alone should make up the final budget deal still being negotiated, insisting that revenue increases must be part of the equation.

"You can't cut enough to balance the budget, and you have to if we're going to eliminate the deficit and reduce the debt," Bloomberg said. "You have to raise money from someplace."

The billionaire mayor said that he is willing to see his own taxes go up as part of a long-term deal to reduce the deficit.

"I get pretty good value for my taxes. ... We get a lot for our tax dollars," Bloomberg said. "I don't want to pay any more taxes than is necessary, but I do want the services, and I want us to live within our means. So, if we want more services, we've got to come up with the revenue."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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