Kathleen Horan, Reporter, WNYC News
Kathleen Horan is a staff reporter for New York Public Radio, covering the neighborhood beat. She also reports 'Reset', an ongoing series documenting police-community relations in Bedford Stuyvesant, Brooklyn.
For months, Mayor Michael Bloomberg has been pushing for the presidential candidates to offer their solutions to gun violence. On Tuesday, President Barack Obama and Gov. Mitt Romney addressed the issue for the first time during the debates. But neither candidate offered many specifics to the chagrin of Bloomberg.
During the town hall style debate on Tuesday, the candidates were asked their position on an assault weapons ban. The mayor criticized the candidate's vagueness and vowed to donate more than $10 million toward local and national candidates who will focus on issues including gun control.
Obama said he was in favor of reinstating the assault weapons ban. But most of his comments were focused on non-legislative efforts to stop gun violence.
"What can we do to intervene to make sure that young people have opportunity,” asked Obama rhetorically. “That our schools are working — that if there's violence on the streets working with faith groups and law enforcement and we can catch it before it gets out of control."
Republican candidate Mitt Romney said he wasn't in favor of new gun legislation — even though he approved an assault weapons ban in Massachusetts when he was governor.
“[Obama] mentioned good schools — I totally agree,” said Romney. “And I believe if we do a better job of education we'll give people the hope and opportunity they deserve and hopefully less violence from that.”
Bloomberg didn’t mince his words when it came to their answer.
"They had all this gibberish talking about education. That education is the solution to stop the killing,” the mayor said. “My recollection is that the Aurora theatre shooter — he was a PhD candidate.”
Bloomberg added neither Obama nor Romney showed that they're committed enough to helping solve the problem.
"One candidate had four years to do something and the other candidate says he won’t even do what he once did,” Bloomberg said.
The mayor’s announcement of his eight figure donation in support of bipartisan candidates appeared to be timed to his disappointment to the presidential candidate’s lack of specificity in regards to gun control
Bloomberg also helped form a coalition against gun violence in 2006 called Mayors Against Illegal Guns. It was during his second term when he learned that historic dips in crime in the city were starting to be undermined by the flow of illegal guns in the city from out of state.
“Ninety percent of the illegal guns in the city are from elsewhere,” Bloomberg said after a recent seizure of illegal firearms.