Deadly threats will not prevent New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg from pursuing tighter gun laws, the outspoken gun control advocate said Thursday after anonymous letters addressed to him tested positive for ricin.
“The letter was obviously referring to our anti-gun efforts, but there’s 12,000 people who are going to get killed this year with guns,” Bloomberg said. “We’re not going to walk away from those efforts.”
U.S. Secret Service also confirmed on Thursday that the White House mail screening facility intercepted a separate letter addressed to the White House that was similar to the letters previously addressed to Bloomberg, NBC News’ Shawna Thomas and Stacey Klein reported. The letter was turned over to the FBI for testing and investigation.
Tests conducted on Wednesday confirmed two anonymous threatening letters sent to Bloomberg and Mark Glaze, director of Mayors Against Illegal Guns, contained the presence of ricin. The poison, which can be a white powder or orange liquid, is found naturally in castor beans. It can be fatal for up to 72 hours.
“What’s in this letter is nothing compared to what I’ve got planned for you,” the anonymous person wrote in the letter sent to Bloomberg. “You’ll have to kill me and my family before you get my guns. Anyone wants to come to my house will get shot in the face. The right to bear arms is my constitutional God-given right and I will exercise that right till the day I die.”
Law enforcement sources said the letters were postmarked May 20 from Shreveport, La., and the writer made threatening comments about Bloomberg’s support for gun control, NBC News reported.
The letter to Bloomberg was opened on Sunday and the letter to Glaze was opened on Friday. Bloomberg’s letter was intercepted at a mail sorting facility in Manhattan, and Glaze’s letter was encountered at Washington, D.C., offices. Everyone who came into contact with the letters was unharmed.
“I’m not angry. There are people who I would argue do things that may be irrational, do things that are wrong,” Bloomberg said. “But it’s a very complex world out there, and we just have to deal with that.”
The letters aren’t indicative of the conversations in popular culture, Dan Gross, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, said Thursday on msnbc.
“We know that the right to own guns and the Second Amendment can coexist with solutions to actually accomplish all of our goal of making this a safer nation,” he said.
Bloomberg is a longtime vocal advocate of gun control. He, along with Boston Mayor Thomas Menino, lead the bipartisan coalition, Mayors Against Illegal Guns. The group released a set of 34 videos-created by survivors, friends, and families of gun violence victims-in December that each end with a plea to demand action to prevent more Americans dying from guns each day.
Following December’s school massacre in Newtown, Conn., Bloomberg and several House Democrats called on President Obama to enact stricter gun control laws. Shortly after, Bloomberg announced the “demand a plan” to end gun violence campaign.
“President Obama rightly sent his heartfelt condolences to the families in Newtown,” Bloomberg said in December. “But the country needs him to send a bill to Congress to fix this problem. Calling for ‘meaningful action’ is not enough. We need immediate action.”
The mayor also said the National Rifle Association’s power is “vastly overrated.”
Bloomberg-backed gun control advertisements began airing in March. The $12 million worth of ads urge Americans to demand gun control legislation from Congress. Bloomberg said his goal was to lessen the influence of the NRA and make the pro-gun group just one of the voices in the debate, which was put on hold when a compromised background check bill failed in the Senate last month.
The incident comes after a string of other poisonous letters were sent to elected officials. The FBI arrested a Mississippi man in connection to ricin-laced letters sent to President Obama and two other officials last month. The letters sent to the president, Mississippi Sen. Roger Wicker, and Lee County Judge Sadie Holland contained a white powder confirmed as ricin.