WASHINGTON -- National Rifle Association head Wayne LaPierre said Sunday that New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, I, is trying to "buy America" by spending millions from his personal fortune to urge key senators to vote for gun control.
"He can't spend enough of his $27 billion to try to impose his will on the American public," LaPierre said on NBC's "Meet the Press." "They don't want him in their restaurants, they don't want him in their homes, they don't want him telling what food to eat. They sure don't want him telling what self-defense firearms to own. He can't buy America."
Bloomberg said earlier on the show that he will spend $12 million of his vast personal fortune -- he has been ranked among the 10 richest Americans by Forbes -- on ads targeting key senators in the gun-control debate. The ads were reported Saturday by the New York Times.
LaPierre said Bloomberg is making irresponsible claims about gun owners and the NRA.
"It's insane the stuff he says," LaPierre said.
Bloomberg said Sunday that he remains optimistic about the prospects for new gun-control measures coming from Congress, despite the recent news that an assault-weapons ban wouldn't be part of the bill.
"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 said on "Meet the Press," adding: "I think we are going to win this. Celebrating in advance isn't the right thing to do. We've got to go out -- we've got a lot of work ahead of us."
Bloomberg acknowledged that the assault-weapons ban faces an uncertain future, though, because the public isn't as united on that issue.
He said, however, that it was progress that Congress would vote on the ban as an amendment and he said he would continue to apply pressure.
"I don't think we should give up on the assault weapons ban," Bloomberg said. "But clearly it is a more difficult issue for a lot of people. I don't know that that reflects the NRA's power. It may be just that people have different views about assault weapons than they do about background checks."