In the last few weeks alone, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's gun control group, Mayors Against Illegal Guns, has been busy.
It launched a $12 million television ad campaign; announced the opening of field offices in 10 states; posted multiple job listings for its digital team; stepped up its lobbying efforts in Washington; released new infographics, maps and research on gun sales and background checks; and held a national day against gun violence which it called the "largest gun violence prevention advocacy event in history." It's also planning national events on April 13 in at least two dozen states. "We work on the weekends ... we work day and night," said the group's spokeswoman Erika Soto Lamb. "The next two weeks are incredibly important for us. Everything is on table."
Mayors Against Illegal Guns has been pressuring vulnerable lawmakers to vote for legislation that increases restrictions on gun purchases. The Senate is set to take up new gun legislation when it returns to Washington Monday, but its prospects for success are in doubt.
But it won't be for lack of money and manpower by groups like Mayors Against Illegal Guns. Since it was founded in 2006 by Bloomberg and Boston Mayor Thomas Menino, the group has grown to a membership of more than 900 mayors (out of nearly 20,000 mayors or municipal chiefs nationwide).
After the shooting at Newtown, Conn., in December, donations spiked, its supporter list snowballed and social media following multiplied, according to the group. And it claims to have created the biggest field campaign to prevent gun violence in history, citing 1.4 million "grassroots" supporters.
But gun control opponents say Bloomberg's group is overstating its might.
"It takes a billionaire to make a presence in the debate for the anti-second amendment arguments," says Larry Pratt, executive director of Gun Owners of America, in reference to Bloomberg's wealth. Forbes recently estimated Bloomberg's net worth at $27 billion. "I seriously doubt the [grassroots] claim. It's not very credible if its all coming from essentially one person," he said.
But Mayors Against Illegal Guns isn't concerned with its detractors. No matter what happens with proposed gun control legislation next week, Lamb says the group will continue to keep growing.
"We're not packing our stuff," she said. "Even if we pass a gun reform bill, there will still be a problem with gun violence in our country. And we're committing to decreasing the number of people killed by gun violence every day."