The former mayor of New York City, who’s likely to run for president in 2020, has long been an advocate for gun control, but his comments on Tuesday raised eyebrows and accusations that his support of an armed private force on campus were at odds with his views on gun control.
“When you have a city that has the murder rate that Baltimore has, I think it’s ridiculous to think that they shouldn’t be armed,” Bloomberg told reporters after a meeting at Maryland's Statehouse in Annapolis with Democratic lawmakers and state Attorney General Brian Frosh, according to the Baltimore Sun.
“When you have a city that has the murder rate that Baltimore has, I think it’s ridiculous to think that they shouldn’t be armed.”
He went on to say that a lack of such armed security is “irrational” for a university that is one of Baltimore's biggest employers.
“One of the things I do hear all the time from people who are trying to decide where their kids are going to go to college, they are worried very much about the crime rate, and when they want to go to a hospital, they worry about the crime rate,” he added.
Efforts to create an armed private police force on the campus failed last year, despite support from powerful figures, but the effort is expected to be pushed again this year. Some who oppose the idea warned that, unlike actual police units, a private security force would lack accountability.
But the former mayor’s remarks were met with criticism, in particular from a Johns Hopkins student group called Students Against Private Police, which called out the billionaire’s apparent hypocrisy on firearms.
“Bloomberg’s comments do reinforce the idea that Hopkins is not actually concerned with public safety but instead is focused on the perceptions of parents and others from out-of-town,” the group wrote in its statement, according to the Baltimore Sun.
Bloomberg is reportedly one of the biggest donors to the university, and shattered all records with a donation of $1.8 billion announced last November.
During his visit to Baltimore, Bloomberg also praised the state for its tougher gun control measures, even though homicides in Baltimore spiked last year, with nearly one every day.
“Thank you to Maryland for being very active in passing some gun laws that make some sense,” Bloomberg said, according to WJZ-TV. “Not to take anybody’s guns away but to make sure that we don’t sell guns to people with criminal records or people with psychiatric problems or to minors and also that we have the ability to take guns away from people who are a danger to society.”
He also said he’s still deciding about a 2020 presidential run, saying he will make the decision in January or February.