New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and National Rifle Association chief Wayne LaPierre squared off on Sunday's "Meet The Press" over the assault weapons ban being debated in Congress.
"I don't think there's ever been an issue where the public has spoken so clearly, where Congress hasn't eventually understood and done the right thing," Bloomberg, who has become one of the most vocal gun control advocates in the wake of the Newtown, Conn., school shootings, said in a taped interview with NBC's David Gregory.
"We are going to have a vote for sure on assault weapons and we're going to have a vote on background checks," Bloomberg continued. "And if we were to get background checks only, it wouldn't be as good as if we got both, but we demanded a plan and then we demanded a vote. We've got the plan, we're going to get the vote. And now it's incumbent on us to make our voices heard."
To do so, the billionaire mayor said he's spending $12 million on an advertising campaign—set to launch in 10 states on Monday—that touts tougher gun laws.
"I think I have a responsibility, and I think you and all of your viewers have responsibilities, to try to make this country safer for our families and for each other," he said. "And if I can do that by spending some money and taking the NRA from being the only voice to being one of the voices, so the public can really understand the issues, then I think my money would be well spent, and I think I have an obligation to do that."
LaPierre says Bloomberg would be better off spending his money elsewhere.
"He's going to find out this is a country of the people, by the people and for the people," LaPierre told Gregory. "And he can't spend enough of his $27 billion to try to impose his will on the American public. They don't want him in their restaurants, they don't want him in their homes. They don't want him telling them what food to eat; they sure don't want him telling them what self-defense firearms to own. And he can't buy America."
The NRA chief criticized the gun control legislation currently on Capitol Hill, calling the proposed universal background checks a "speed bump" for law-abiding gun owners.
"The whole thing, universal checks, is a dishonest premise. There's not a bill on the Hill that provides a universal check. Criminals aren't going to be checked," LaPierre said. "The mental health records are not in the system, and they don't prosecute any of the criminals that they catch. ... It slows down the law abiding and does nothing to anybody else."
LaPierre then reiterated the NRA's post-Newtown plea for armed security officers in every American public school. "Not a mom or dad wants to drop their kid off at school and leave their kids unprotected."