TODAY   |  March 24, 2013

Bloomberg pushes for gun control in new ads

Mayor Michael Bloomberg is taking his gun-control campaign to select Senate districts with ads that will begin running Monday, while President Barack Obama will make additional trips outside Washington to rally support for new measures. TODAY’s Lester Holt interviews David Gregory of “Meet the Press.”

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>>> president obama is back at the white house this morning after a high-profile trip to the middle east meant to build up his credentials there. did he succeed? david gregory is moderator of "meet the press." david, good morning. good to see you.

>> good morning, lester.

>> does this represent -- this trip represent a new engagement by the president in the mideast peace process ?

>> i think it does. i think the president's signaling that he wants to use some political capital to get a mideast peace process started again. he was sending a very strong signal to israel, but to the region, that he stands shoulder to shoulder with the netanyahu government. they've not always had a great relationship. but that relationship is very strong country to country, no matter who the leader is. and it's particularly important because of the issue of iran and syria that, no doubt, the obama white house will have to deal with.

>> he's back now dealing with the domestic issues, including gun control . you know, after sandy hook , we all understood there was a narrow window to get change, meaningful change, in terms of gun laws . what has happened now in terms of the assault weapons ban and where all of this goes?

>> the question is whether or not the moment has effectively been lost. i think that's a real question inside the white house among democrats and gun-control supporters. the assault weapons ban will get a vote. but it's not going to pass. there's a big focus on background checks . and there's a big political focus that's not going away. i sat down with new york city mayor michael bloomberg who talked about his own big push to spend money to target lawmakers. he's taking names based on how they vote on the assault weapons ban . this is part of the interview.

>> 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. i've spent $12 million on running ads in the ten states around the country, explaining to the public what the issues are and how -- and urging them to call their senators if they believe that we should have gun checks that stop criminals and people with mental illnesses from getting guns.

>> he made it very clear, did the mayor, that he wants to be a counterweight to the national rifle association . we'll hear from wayne lapierre on the program to react to that is correct lester.

>> david gregory , thank you very