New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg
New York City Mayor Michael BloombergAFP file

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg is bankrolling a $12 million nationwide ad campaign in a bid to counter the US gun lobby's vast influence, The New York Times reported Saturday.

Bloomberg, a fierce advocate of gun control since the Newtown massacre in December, has been targeting senators in hopes of persuading them to back a proposed package of federal regulations, according to The Times.

The ads are set to run in 12 states beginning Monday ahead of a debate in Congress over legislation to curb gun violence.

Bloomberg told the Times that the campaign would focus on demands seen as being more likely to be achieved, such as universal background checks on those seeking to purchase firearms.

"You don't want to lose everything in the interest of getting the perfect," Bloomberg said.

The report characterized the Bloomberg-funded ad blitz as a counterweight to the influence of the National Rifle Association.

"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."

Bloomberg's campaign comes after the Senate's top Democrat Harry Reid dropped a proposal this week to ban the sale of assault weapons such as the one used in the Sandy Hook killings, saying it had little chance of success.

The Senate majority leader said he was instead introducing a bill with three other gun violence prevention measures, including a requirement for background checks for all gun sales, and would bring it to a vote in April.

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.

However 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," he said.