National Rifle Association chief executive Wayne LaPierre has met his match. Now he needs to remove his firing-range earplugs long enough to hear some logic.
On NBC's "Meet the Press" Sunday, LaPierre said New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who has launched a national campaign for background checks on gun buyers, is "going to find out this is a country of the people, by the people and for the people. And he can't spend enough of his $27 billion to try to impose his will."
This is a joke, right? What has the gun lobby been doing all these years if not imposing its will on Congress with millions of dollars happily anted up by American firearms manufacturers? LaPierre's line of thought goes nowhere.
The man who calls the shots at the NRA might also think twice about cloaking himself in public sentiment. The horrors of Newtown mobilized legions of people who favor gun control measures. Polls show nearly 90 percent of Americans, including a majority of homes with NRA members, favor background checks for private gun sales.
And should the NRA try to match Bloomberg dollar for dollar? Good luck with that. LaPierre and his sponsors would wind up tangling with a fellow who spent more than $108 million just to get himself re-elected mayor of New York City for a third term. Why would the NRA start a bidding war against the 13th wealthiest person in the world -- simply to defeat a policy it once supported?
Bloomberg's initiative will feature a $12-million television ad campaign in 13 states asking people to call their senators if they believe we should have checks to stop criminals and people with mental illness from getting firearms. LaPierre says background checks are an "insane approach" because "criminals aren't going to be checked." But since when did the mere chance that certain people might not comply with a law become a reason not to pass it?
Bloomberg's campaign is promising, but he needs to maintain its momentum. A mass buy-in from Americans would give him leverage he needs to move -- and keep moving -- Congress. The NRA could be very surprised.