By KAREN MATTHEWS | AP
NEW YORK (AP) -- New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg on Thursday called the defeat of gun restrictions in the U.S. Senate "a disgrace" and said "children lost."
"They're going to die," said Bloomberg, a longtime gun control advocate and co-chairman of Mayors Against Illegal Guns. "And the criminals won."
The Senate bill to expand background checks for gun buyers drew 54 votes Wednesday, six short of the 60 needed to advance. The measure was defeated despite lobbying by former U.S. Rep. Gabby Giffords, wounded in a shooting at a meet-and-greet event in her Arizona district, and by family members of those killed by Adam Lanza in Newtown, Conn., in December.
Bloomberg, a billionaire media mogul, said he would work to defeat senators who voted against the background checks and urged other New Yorkers to do the same.
"I've said before, I will support those who do what's right for America," Bloomberg said. "I'm going to support those who did the right thing. And if there's an election between somebody who didn't and somebody who wants to, of course I'm going to do that and I would hope you would do that too."
Speaking at a Manhattan news conference to promote energy-saving initiatives, an angry Bloomberg lashed out at gun control opponents.
"This just is over the top," he said. "When 80 or 90 percent of the people want to do something, when the issue is simply do you continue murder or not, do you continue this terrible suicide rate among people who have problems or not. ... It's so inconceivable to me that some of these senators voted the way they did. How can you look at constituents in the eye when you go home?"
Bloomberg has attributed New York City's falling violent crime numbers in recent decades to the city's restrictive gun laws. The National Rifle Association has argued that tighter laws would have no effect on public safety and crime.
The NRA did not immediately return a call Thursday seeking a comment on Bloomberg's vow to go after senators who voted against the gun law.