If New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg (shown) has any thoughts about running for president, he might want to skip the New Hampshire primary. The billionaire mayor, who flirted with the idea of running in 2012, owes Granite Staters an apology, a state Republican leader said after a group representing his Mayors Against Illegal Guns campaign named alleged Boston Marathon bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev as a victim of gun violence.
"It is disgusting that Mayor Bloomberg's radical out-of-state gun control group came to New Hampshire and honored so many thugs, murderers and terrorists," said New Hampshire Republican Committee Chairman Jennifer Horn in a statement released Wednesday after Tsarnaev's name was read at a "No More Names" rally in Concord.
Participants in the rally, including family members of shooting victims, read aloud the names of persons killed by gunfire since the shooting deaths of 20 school children and six adults at the Sandy Hook School in Newtown, Connecticut, last December. The group apologized after the Union Leader reported the inclusion of Tsarnaev's name. Tsarnaev was killed in a shootout with police after he and his brother Dzhokhar had been identified as suspects in the April 15 bombing s at the Boston Marathon that killed three and wounded dozens. Dzhokhar was wounded and captured by police the next day.
"Mayor Bloomberg owes every Granite Stater a personal apology for the outrageous conduct of his extremist organization," Horn said.
The group later issued a statement saying, "Tsarnaev was absolutely not a victim" and that "his name should not have been read. It was a mistake and it never should have happened and we sincerely apologize." The Slate.com list the group was using, the Union Leader reported, also included the names of Christopher Dorner, the former Los Angeles police officer accused of several murders in a shooting spree in southern California, and Kevin Bailey, killed in a gun fight with police during a traffic stop in Solon, Ohio.
Mayors Against Illegal Guns claims a membership of more than 900 mayors from around the country. It was organized by Bloomberg, a longtime advocate of strict gun control measures. New York is known to have some of the toughest gun laws in the nation, and Bloomberg and his city's police department organization have come under fire from both the National Rifle Association and the American Civil Liberties Union for its aggressive "Stop and Frisk" policy of searching for illegal weapons. Bloomberg has committed some of his own personal wealth to the organization's multi-million-dollar advertising campaign, targeting political figures who oppose gun control measures. The group has run several ads against Republican Sen. Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire for her vote against a Senate measure to expand background checks of gun buyers. Ayotte, the state's junior senator, was the only senator from the Northeast to vote against the bill.
Opponents of expanded background checks have argued that the government is not enforcing gun laws already enacted and that background checks could easily lead to a national gun registration, something currently prohibited by federal law.