Schumer, Bloomberg Call for Stricter Gun Control Penalties

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Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Mayor Michael Bloomberg endorsed a plan to increase federal penalties on states that are not enforcing background checks for prospective gun buyers.

Bolstering current laws, rather than passing new ones, is seen as the only viable political option for control advocates who have failed to capitalize on the spotlight their issue received following the deadly shooting in Tucson, Arizona by a deranged gunman who seriously injured Rep. Gabrille Giffords.

The alleged shooter, Jared Loughner, was tackled by onlookers after unloading a Glock with a 30-round magazine, weapons he should not have been eligible to purchase following his rejection from military enlistment citing mental instability. The military's evaluation of Loughner was not shared with federal officials who maintain a national database of gun permits.

Under the plan endorsed by Schumer and Bloomberg, states and federal authorities would be required to increase the percentage of denied gun permit applicants to the national gun database. The penalty for not reporting would be a loss of federal funding for crime prevention.

Schumer called it a "modest" proposal, but one that could be effective. The senator also said President Obama could accomplish some better information sharing among federal agencies by executive order, and that he was working with them on it.

Bloomberg said he was optimistic the measure could pass, saying at one point "saving lives" is always "good politics."

Both Schumer and Bloomberg have made gun control centerpieces of their legislative agendas. While in Congress, Schumer authored the assault weapons ban and codified much of the background checks now required. Bloomberg in 2006 co-founded a national coalition of mayors to fight "illegal guns." The group has run ads targeting lawmakers and recently published their second undercover video showing lax and possibly illegal gun purchases at gun shows.

The National Rifle Association, whom the mayor often singles out as the force preventing greater gun control measures from advancing in Washington, has said Bloomberg is using their group as a scapegoat for crime problems in his backyard.