New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's anti-gun violence group is taking a page from its strongest opponent's playbook by implementing a new scoring system to grade lawmakers based on their votes and statements on gun issues—all timed as the Senate will consider gun-regulation legislation this week.
This latest move from Bloomberg's group, Mayors Against Illegal Guns, aims to build legislative momentum while 11 family members of Newtown victims are in Washington, D.C. today pushing Congress for stiffer gun legislation.
"For too long, the only voice that has been loud enough to influence Congress has been the Washington gun lobby's—that's how we've ended up with ineffective gun laws that have fueled our country's gun violence epidemic," said Bloomberg in a statement. "Now we're working to make sure that the voices of the more than 900 bipartisan mayors in our coalition -- and the 90 percent of Americans who support commonsense reforms like background checks for all gun sales—are heard loud and clear. It's time for Congress to take action to save lives and protect our communities."
Similar to the scoring system of the National Rifle Association, Mayor Bloomberg's group will issue letter grades between A though F, unlike the Brady Campaign which numerically scores legislators. The rating system will act as a guide for voters and campaign donors as legislators will face re-election cycles. Because some Republicans, including Sen. Harry Reid have campaigned on their letter ranking from the NRA, part of the motivation behind the new scoring system was to aid big political donors to contribute to political candidates who support gun control.
An outspoken proponent of gun control, Bloomberg has stated he would finance television ads for lawmakers who are pro-gun control and will attack those who are pro-gun rights.
The group released a new ad on Monday featuring the father of a Newtown shooting victim, Neil Heslin. Heslin gave a chilling testimony at the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the assault weapons ban proposed by California Sen. Dianne Feinstein and asked why Bushmaster rifles even legal.
In the video, Heslin explained why he chose to tell his story. "I feel it's something I owe to my son, Jesse, to speak up. I'm his voice. And I feel if I didn't, I would be letting Jesse down." The group spent more than $1 million to air the 60-second ad on cable news networks in Washington and in 10 states.
Watch the Mayor Against Illegal Guns' ad below.