NRA, Bloomberg Appeals Voters on Gun Control Bill

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They're two of the loudest voices in the gun debate: New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and National Rifle Association Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre.

But now, they say it's up to the voters to make their views known to Congress.

At stake is a Senate bill calling for expanded background checks for all gun purchases, tougher penalties for gun trafficking, and more money for school safety.

The NRA calls the background checks a "dishonest premise," noting that mental health records are exempt from databases and pointing out that criminals won't submit to the checks.

"It slows down the law-abiding and does nothing to anybody else," LaPierre said.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., has already dropped the ban on assault-style weapons, fearing it would sink the broader bill. His goal is to debate and vote on the legislation next month.

But as voters sort out the issue they may encounter television ads and phone calls urging them to support the Senate bill. Bloomberg, a Republican-turned-Independent, has just poured 12 million into TV spots and phone banks in 13 states.

"I am cautiously optimistic," Bloomberg said. "I think when you have an issue where 90 percent of the public, 80 percent of NRA members, even, say that they think we should have reasonable checks before people are allowed to buy guns."

LaPierre, meanwhile, maintains that Bloomberg is trying to "buy" America and that the public won't go along.

"He's going to find out this is a country of the people, by the people, and for the people, and he can't spend enough of his $27 billion to try and impose his will on the American public," LaPierre charged. "We have people all over, millions of people, sending us $5, $10, $15, $20 checks saying stand up to this guy."

The NRA says there should be better tracking of the mentally incompetent to keep guns out of their hands. The group also says the administration should enforce already existing federal gun laws.

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