New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a fierce advocate of gun control since the Newtown massacre, is bankrolling a $12 million nationwide ad campaign aimed at countering the gun lobby’s huge influence.
The New York Times reported that Bloomberg was targeting senators he hoped could be persuaded to back a proposed package of federal regulations.
Erika Soto Lamb, spokeswoman for Mayors Against Illegal Guns, told CNN the ads would run in 12 states starting on Monday ahead of a debate in Congress over legislation to curb gun violence.
"The NRA has just had this field to itself," Bloomberg said.
"It’s the only one that’s been speaking out. It’s time for another voice."
In one of the spots, already posted on the Demand Action website, a man holds a shotgun and says:
"I believe in the Second Amendment and I'll fight to protect it. But with rights come responsibilities. That's why I support comprehensive background checks so criminals and the dangerously mentally ill can't buy guns."
Bloomberg told the Times the campaign would focus on universal background checks on those wanting to purchase firearms.
The Times report characterised the Bloomberg-funded ad blitz as a counterweight to the influence of the National Rifle Association.
Bloomberg, whose estimated $27 billion fortune makes him the seventh richest person in the United States, has made headlines recently for his proposals to curb sales of giant servings of soft drinks.
But the NRA’s chief lobbyist Chris Cox told the Times that the billionaire’s gun violence campaign was doomed to failure.
"What he is going to find out is that Americans don’t want to be told by some elitist billionaire what they can eat, drink and they damn well don’t want to be told how, when and where they can protect their families."
The spots will run in Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Indiana, Louisiana, Maine, New Hampshire, Nevada, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, Lamb told CNN.