CARSON CITY, Nev. — John W. Griffin is a fast-talking, whiskey-loving, fifth-generation Nevadan who spends his days as a lobbyist courting lawmakers in Stetsons. He advocates for luxury casinos, once brokered a dispute between a brothel and a nightclub, and has helped feuding families resolve tussles over cattle crossings.
Now he is representing the ultimate city slicker, Michael R. Bloomberg, the mayor of New York, who, undaunted by defeat in Congress, is taking his campaign for stricter gun laws to the nation’s state capitals, including here, where a bill to expand the use of criminal background checks is before the State Legislature.
“I thought, ‘Heck, that’s going to be a tough battle,’ ” Mr. Griffin said. “But for a man with unmatchable resources, there’s good reason to be hopeful.”
Fortified by several million dollars in contributions that have come in since the Newtown school massacre in December, Mayors Against Illegal Guns, the national coalition Mr. Bloomberg co-founded and finances, says it has deployed more than 50 people across the country, building grass-roots organizations and dispatching foot soldiers to pressure local politicians.
In Washington state, where a Bloomberg-backed background-checks bill was defeated in the Legislature this year, the coalition is assisting with a ballot initiative on the same issue. In Oregon, the group has hired lobbyists to revive long-stalled legislation to regulate private gun sales. In Colorado, where the coalition helped pass stricter gun laws this year, it is preparing to defend lawmakers against a recall effort pushed by the National Rifle Association.