Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is weighing in on the rampage in Santa Barbara, California, calling both for stricter gun laws and for background checks for people with mental illness.
"The real problem here is we have too many guns in the hands of criminals, people with psychiatric problems — as this guy obviously did — and minors," Bloomberg said on "Meet The Press" on Sunday. "And we've got to find some ways to stop that.
"You always have to have due process, and you can't just go incarcerate people," Bloomberg continued. "And psychiatrists will tell you they can't predict which people with mental illness are gonna get a gun and start killing people. But you do want to have laws that let you get a temporary restraining order" before granting gun licenses to them.
Santa Barbara police say 22-year-old Elliot Rodger killed six people and wounded 13 others in the May 23 rampage in Isla Vista, California, before killing himself. On Sunday, Bloomberg lamented laws allowing students to carry guns on college campuses.
"We've had shootings on campus, and at the same time, some states are passing laws to explicitly let people carry guns on campuses," he said. "I don't know what you were like when you were in college, but my recollection of college 50 years ago is kids just should not have guns on campus."
In April, relatives told police they were concerned about YouTube videos Rodger had posted, and officers performed a welfare check on him on April 30. But police concluded he was not an immediate threat to himself or others.
"The parents of this kid knew he had a problem, knew he'd done something [and] the cops couldn't do anything," Bloomberg said. "Now, you don't want the cops to be able to go and grab somebody off the street and ... institutionalize them. There should be a process. But we don't have that thing that a cop could use right away."
The former mayor suggested that people with documented mental illness should have to prove to a judge that they could be allowed to carry a weapon. "Maybe you'd have to go before a judge and make a case," he said.
"Nobody says any law is going to solve all the problems," Bloomberg added. "What we do know is that a lot of people with mental illness do things that are destructive to themselves and to others."
In April, Bloomberg launched Everytown, a new gun control organization that he believes can rival the National Rifle Association.
“They say, ‘We don’t care. We’re going to go after you,’” Bloomberg told the New York Times of the NRA. “‘If you don’t vote with us, we’re going to go after your kids and your grandkids and your great-grandkids. And we’re never going to stop.’ ... We’ve got to make them afraid of us."
"For too long, change has been thwarted by the Washington gun lobby and by leaders who refuse to take commonsense steps that will save lives," says the organization's mission statement.
In the wake of deadly shootings in Tucson, Arizona, Aurora, Colorado, Newtown, Connecticut, Fort Hood, Texas, and elsewhere, Bloomberg is hoping his new group can do what President Barack Obama has not: successfully lobby Congress for stricter gun control laws.
"This is a battle we're going to win," Bloomberg told Yahoo News' Katie Couric last month. "This is not a partisan issue. I know people say, 'Well, one party's in more favor, one party's against.' They are individual votes, and I will support individual senators and congressmen who vote to make my kids safer and your kids safer."
- Crime & Justice