Published 2:51 p.m. | Updated 5:08 p.m.
Democratic presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg on Thursday visited Aurora, where he talked about his anti-gun violence policy and met with gun violence survivors.
“This is part of my life’s work and I will get this done whether I’m elected or not,” Bloomberg said at the Heritage Christian Center. “I will never back down from this fight. That’s the kind of president you need.”
Bloomberg said he will tackle gun control in five different ways. Those include: overhauling background checks, keeping guns away from dangerous people, protecting schools, dealing with communities who have been hit hardest by gun violence, and confronting the gun industry head-on.
The New York billionaire was joined by Colorado state Rep. Tom Sullivan, who endorsed him for president. His son Alex was killed nearby in the 2012 Aurora Theater Shooting. Sullivan has strongly pushed for more gun control.
“I have witnessed the actions that Mike has taken since Alex was murdered,” Sullivan said. “I am confident that survivors and victims of gun violence will have an ally in Mike in the White House, that he won't back down from the pressure of the gun lobby and the gun industry.”
Bloomberg, a former Mayor of New York City, is known for being a gun control advocate, too, and has spent millions to support the cause. He helped found the gun-control lobbying group Everytown for Gun Safety in 2014.
“I think we need a president who's going to stand up and provide leadership in both the House and the Senate and pull people together, pull this country together and get this legislation passed so we can get on,” Bloomberg said. “Who would (have) thought that the controversial thing is just to stop people from getting massacred?”
The Colorado chapter of that group backed the state’s Red Flag Law, which goes into effect Jan. 1, 2020. That law allows a family member or law enforcement to petition a court to temporarily remove guns for up to a year from people who could pose a threat to themselves or others. Colorado is one of 17 states and the District of Columbia who have so-called laws.
Coni Sanders attended the event . Her father was Dave Sanders, a teacher at Columbine High School who was killed in the 1999 attack. Sanders said she was pleased with Bloomberg’s agenda, but hoped there would be more focus on how to support victims of gun violence.
“We’re spending an awful lot of time talking about perpetration of the crime and not the impact on the people who survive it,” she said. “How do we not only prevent it but how do we start repairing some of the damage that’s been done and supporting people and their mental health so people don’t turn to guns as a solution.”
Other victims of gun violence who attended had similar concerns, and asked Bloomberg directly what he would do for victims.
“I can never really feel as much as almost all of you do,” Bloomberg answered. “What we can do for those who are deceased is to stop more people from getting killed.”
He said he thinks raising money, lobbying and implementing programs are good solutions.
In November, Everytown outspent the National Rifle Association in the Virginia elections, pushing Democrats ahead. CNBC reports the group’s organizing also helped push large corporations like Walmart to stop selling handgun ammunition and sales of short-barrel rifle ammunition. The decision came in September after two shootings in Walmarts during the summer.
Colorado Republican National Committee spokesperson Kyle Kohli dismissed Bloomberg's candidacy and his visit.
"Michael Bloomberg is an out-of-touch coastal elite who openly embraces taxing the poor for their own good. His late entrance into the race demonstrates Democrats know no candidate running has what it takes to beat President Trump. Bloomberg was not good for New York, and he certainly will not look out for the best interests of working class Coloradans," Kolhi said in a statement.
Bloomberg launched his presidential campaign at the end of November. In a tweet on Thursday afternoon, he said Colorado will be an important focus of his 2020 campaign.
Bloomberg said his campaign’s top priorities outside gun control are getting rid of Trump, focusing on climate change, and supporting public education.
“To me, if you could do something on all of those, you’d go a heck of a long ways down the road,” he said.
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