There are rumblings on the Internet that New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s pro-gun control organization is losing dozens of members while also having a hard time recruiting new politicians to join the group’s push for tougher state and federal gun laws.
Is there truth to this rumor?
Well, according to the popular website Buzzfeed, which compared an MAIG members list from early February to now, “more than 50 mayors who were then listed on MAIG’s website are no longer there.”
Buzzfeed went on to report that “most of the mayors whose names are no longer affiliated with the group are off the list either because they resigned or lost an election, but others have specifically asked to be removed.”
The overall implication was that MAIG is struggling to maintain the size of its membership because of the “political heat” the National Rifle Association and other pro-gun organizations place on those who support gun control measures, like universal background checks and bans on certain standard-capacity magazines and so-called assault weapons.
However, that’s not true — at least according to the liberal-leaning watchdog center Media Matters, which ran a fact-check on the Buzzfeed article, debunked the claim that MAIG is shrinking in size. According to MM’s research, MAIG’s membership has actually grown by 17 percent over that same period.
From the Media Matters article:
Buzzfeed did not link to the “old version of its member list” it compared to the group’s current roster of affiliated mayors. But the version of the group’s membership list saved to the Internet Archive on January 27 lists 857 mayors; the list currently posted on MAIG’s website features 1005, an increase of 148 mayors. According to a Media Matters review, MAIG has seen its representation increase in 33 states during that period; it has held level in 6 states and decreased in 8 states.
Mark Glaze, MAIG’s director, addressed the organization’s turnover, suggesting that it was no big deal and that overall things are trending up for MAIG.
“Mayors come and go,” Glaze told Buzzfeed. Adding, “We lose them on occasion, but it’s going upward.”
Glaze also touched on the group’s outreach to newly elected mayors, noting that MAIG typically sends out a letter once he/she takes office. Glaze said that MAIG tries not to be overly aggressive with its recruitment efforts.
Though, there are several former members who were unhappy with MAIG and left because of its persistent pro-gun control campaigning.
Lawrence Morrissey, the mayor of Rockford, Illinois, terminated his membership in June because he believes MAIG is guilty of false advertising. That is, instead of targeting criminals who are unlawfully possessing firearms, the group has primarily focused on efforts to (a) take firearms away from law-abiding citizens and (b) make it more difficult for individuals to exercise their Second Amendment rights.
“The original focus, I thought, was going to be on focusing on better enforcement of our existing laws, and if anything, we have talked about not getting involved with things like banning assault weapons and banning magazine clips,” Morrissey told Buzzfeed.
Likewise, Mayor Donnalee Lozeau of Nashua, New Hampshire, withdrew her support from the group after it spent hundreds of thousands of dollars running attack ads on Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH).
Ayotte voted against the Manchin-Toomey expanded background check bill that would have required criminal background checks for firearms transfers made over the Internet and at gun shows. MAIG accused Ayotte of flip-flopping on the issue, that she once supported UBCs but then had a change of heart.
“I simply cannot be part of an organization that chooses this course of action instead of cooperatively working with those that have proven over a lifetime of work their true intentions,” Lozeau said in a statement to Nashua’s the Telegraph. “I have faith that Senator Ayotte will continue to work toward finding a responsible solution relative to these issues.”
Morrissey and Lozeau might only represent a small portion of the group’s former members, but one can argue that they both make a valid points about how MAIG’s political tactics have become more extreme, especially in the wake of the mass shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, and at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado.
Regardless, the bottom line is that MAIG is growing, not shrinking. Should gun owners be surprised by this?
No. Bloomberg’s got billions, and as long as he does he is going to continue to use his fortune to influence politicians in this country which means that MAIG won’t die or wilt away, it will most likely continue to grow at a moderate pace or remain at its current level.
The other point to be made is that sure, MAIG’s membership and political clout is growing, but so is the clout and membership of pro-gun organizations like the NRA, Second Amendment Foundation, Gun Owners of America, etc.