Republicans and gun rights groups vowed to counter billionaire Michael Bloomberg's newly announced $25 million campaign against national gun-carry reciprocity on Tuesday.
"Common sense national concealed carry reciprocity is gaining traction across the country," Rep. Richard Hudson (R., N.C.), who introduced the national reciprocity bill Bloomberg is targeting, told the Washington Free Beacon. "Big city liberals like Bloomberg can spend all the money they want to create fear with emotion, but the truth and facts are on our side. Just like states recognizing other states' driver's licenses, national concealed carry reciprocity makes good sense."
The money Bloomberg plans to spend will mostly go to the gun control group Everytown for Gun Safety, Politico reports. The organization is making new hires, expanding its operation at the state level, and beginning to score votes on Capitol Hill. Everytown's main focus leading up to the 2018 elections will be stopping the national reciprocity bill currently making its way through both chambers of Congress.
"This is a line in the sand on this issue, there's no question about it," John Feinblatt, Everytown president, told Politico. "The NRA wants to normalize carrying guns in public. It's not where the American public is. We're putting people on notice today that we're watching … and that we expect to hold people accountable."
Gun rights groups told the Free Beacon they plan to counter Everytown's campaign. The Second Amendment Foundation said it will rely on grassroots support while Everytown relies on Bloomberg's cash infusion.
"We are not going to allow billionaire Michael Bloomberg to buy the Congress," said Alan Gottlieb, the group's founder. "Our gun rights are not for sale. While he will spend tens of millions of dollars against our constitutional rights, the gun rights movement will rely on tens of millions of voting gun owners to defeat his efforts."
The National Rifle Association echoed those sentiments and said they are leading the fight against Bloomberg's influence.
"Bloomberg will spend anything to curtail law-abiding citizens' constitutional right to self-protection but what he doesn't understand is that the Constitution isn't for sale and his money is no match for the NRA's grassroots support," Jennifer Baker, a spokesperson for the group's lobbying arm, said. "It's tens of millions of Second Amendment supporters versus Bloomberg's billions. The NRA is proud to lead that fight. We won't back down."
The Virginia Citizens Defense League said it thinks Bloomberg's spending isn't likely to change minds in Congress.
"I love seeing ‘moneybags' Bloomberg waste his money," said Philip Van Cleave, the group's president. "Bloomberg's funding is already going to anti-rights legislators, most of whom are Democrats. Does he really think that he can sway pro-rights Republicans that he'd never support under any condition, especially when Bloomberg, himself, is so unpopular with voters?
"Bloomberg just can't stand the American gun owner's independence. It is anathema to everything he believes in and stands for."
UPDATE 10:41 A.M.: This post was updated with comment from the National Rifle Association.