Michael Bloomberg puts gun control at heart of White House bid

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Democratic presidential contender Michael Bloomberg has unveiled a gun control policy just steps from the site of one of Colorado’s worst mass shootings.

He called for a ban on all assault weapons, mandatory permits for gun purchasers and a new position in the White House to coordinate gun violence prevention.

“I’ve been all in on the fight against gun violence for 15 years, and I’m just getting started,” Mr Bloomberg declared.

“As president, I will work to end the gun violence epidemic once and for all.”

Mr Bloomberg, the billionaire former New York City mayor, entered the Democratic presidential primary less than two weeks ago.

Gun violence has quickly emerged as a core issue for his presidential bid, as it has been for his political and philanthropic efforts for much of the last decade.

Mr Bloomberg is well known to gun control advocates in Colorado and across the country, where he has funnelled tens of millions of dollars from his personal fortune to help like-minded candidates while creating and supporting gun control groups such as Mayors Against Illegal Guns and Moms Demand Action.

Despite his dedication to the issue, the former Republican is viewed sceptically by many Democratic primary voters, who look at his ties to Wall Street and vast personal wealth with suspicion.

Democratic rivals including Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren in recent days have accused him of trying to buy the election.

At the same time, Mr Bloomberg is pounding the local airwaves in all 50 states with television ads highlighting his work on issues on gun violence and climate change while casting himself as best positioned to defeat Donald Trump next autumn.

President Donald Trump (Andrew Harnik/AP)

The 77-year-old New Yorker outlined his plan to combat gun violence before an invitation-only audience in the shadow of the cinema in Aurora where a gunman killed 12 people and wounded nearly 60 others in 2012.

The speaking lineup included Democratic state Representative Tom Sullivan, whose son was killed in the attack.

The policies Mr Bloomberg outlined largely mirror those he fought for on the state and federal levels in recent years, though it’s the first time he has released his specific prescription for gun violence as a presidential candidate.

Among the highlights, Mr Bloomberg’s plan would:

– Reinstate the federal ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.

– Require every gun buyer to obtain a permit before making a purchase.

– Require point-of-sale background checks on all gun purchases while closing the gun show loophole.

– Institute a new age limit of 21 for those wishing to buy handguns, semi-automatic rifles and shotguns.

– Require a mandatory 48-hour waiting period for all gun purchases.

– Institute a federal “red flag” law to deny permits to “troubled people who pose a danger to themselves or others.”

– Institute a temporary ban on gun possession for those convicted of assault or other violent misdemeanours.

– Ban all guns in K-12 schools, colleges, and universities, except for law enforcement.

– Reverse the law that gives gun makers and gun dealers immunity from lawsuits.

– Create the position of White House gun coordinator “to mobilise the public to fight gun violence and launch an inter-agency hub to fight gun violence”.

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