(CNN) – Two days after a gunman who police say used legally purchased firearms killed a dozen theater-goers in a Denver suburb, the nation's political leaders began debating whether stricter controls on gun access were necessary to prevent further violence.
The question of tighter restrictions on owning guns has been largely ignored in this year's presidential campaign, and Democrats, who in the 1990s were vocal in pushing for tighter gun laws, rarely address the issue today.
That silence, however, was sharply criticized by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who said Sunday that President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney had a responsibility to lay out a strategy for combating gun violence in America.
"This requires - particularly in a presidential year - the candidates for president of the United States to stand up and once and for all say, yes, they feel terrible. Yes, it's a tragedy. Yes, we have great sympathy for the families, but it's time for this country to do something," Bloomberg said on CBS. "And that's the job of the president of the United States."
Both candidates, Bloomberg said, had records on restricting access to assault weapons. He pointed to an assault weapon ban Romney signed as governor of Massachusetts and a 2008 campaign promise from Obama to reinstate a federal ban on assault weapons.
"The governor has, apparently, changed his views, and the president has spent the last three years trying to avoid the issue, or if he's facing it, I don't know anybody that's seen him face it. And it's time for both of them to be held accountable," said Bloomberg, long an advocate for tighter access to guns.
"Leadership is leading from the front, not doing a survey, finding out what the people want and then doing it. What do they stand for, and why aren't they standing up?" Bloomberg asked.
Speaking aboard Air Force One as the president flew to meet with families of those killed in Friday's shooting, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said Obama did not have plans to push for new laws in light of the Colorado massacre.
"The president's view is that we can take steps to keep guns out of the hands of people who should not have them under existing law. And that's his focus right now," Carney said Sunday, adding it was too early to determine how the issue would play in the election.
Despite Bloomberg's unequivocal call for tighter restrictions on guns, two leading voices Sunday questioned whether different rules would have prevented Friday's shooting.
Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, speaking on CNN's "State of the Union," said he was willing to consider laws that could prevent similar mass killings but expressed skepticism that any action taken by the government could thwart the actions of "delusional" killers.
"I'm happy to look at anything," Hickenlooper, a Democrat, told CNN Chief Political Correspondent Candy Crowley. "But if there were no assault weapons available, and no this or no that, this guy is going to find something. He knows how to create a bomb, and who knows where the mind would have gone."
Republican Arizona Sen. John McCain expressed a similar willingness to consider all options Sunday but said that any action taken by the government would require a certain degree of demonstrated effectiveness before being enacted.
"I think that we need to look at everything, and everything should be looked at," McCain said, also on "State of the Union." "But to think that somehow gun control, or increased gun control, is the answer, in my view, that has to be proved."
Police in Colorado say Holmes set off two gas-emitting devices before spraying the theater in Aurora, Colorado, with bullets from an AR-15 rifle, a 12-gauge shotgun and at least one of two .40-caliber handguns that police recovered.
Holmes had bought the guns legally at stores in the Denver area over the past two months, Aurora Police Chief Daniel Oates said Friday. More than 6,000 rounds of ammunition were also purchased online, according to the police chief.
Hickenlooper said the fact that Holmes purchased his weapons from different venues would have made it difficult to track his steps.
"Certainly, we can try, and I'm sure we will try to create some checks and balances on these things, but it is an act of evil," Hickenlooper said. "If it was not one weapon, it would have been another, and he was diabolical."
McCain, pointing to the gun and bomb rampage last year in Norway that left 77 people dead, questioned whether greater restrictions on guns could prevent mass shootings.
"The killer in Norway was in a country that had very strict gun-control laws, and yet he was still able to acquire the necessary means to initiate and carry out a mass slaughter," McCain said.
"We had a ban on assault weapons that expired some years ago, and it didn't change the situation at all, in my view," McCain continued, referring a measure that was in place from 1994 to 2004.
That law's leading sponsor, California Democrat Sen. Dianne Feinstein, argued the opposite Sunday, saying that since the measure expired, hundreds of people have been killed using "weapons of war."
"These weapons ought to be stopped," Feinstein said on "Fox News Sunday." "That's what my bill did for 10 years."
She continued, "I have no problem with people being licensed to own a firearm. But these are weapons that you're only going to be using to kill people in close combat. That's the purpose for that weapon."
- Both parties focus on Colorado shooting in weekly addresses
- Romney calls for unity following Colorado shooting
- Obama, after shooting, tells supporters 'Such evil is senseless'
- Bloomberg demands gun action from Obama and Romney
- Campaigns pull ads after shooting
Democrats are so enamored with their ideas they have no way of looking at evidence and changing course! Gun laws are adequate– we need enforcement and personal responsibility. Carry an unregistered gun and forfit your _________ kill someone and forfit your life. Justice will prevail!
Gun control is not the answer.! Why subject legitimate gun owners who already have to jump through hoops to acquire a gun when the real problem is the illegal gun trade.Thafact the US Government cannot or will not shut down the illegal gun trade is the problem. Why ? is it because they cannot or will not! so what everyone is doing is blaming the legal gun owners for the crimes against the people of this country. Why! because we are the only ones that the additional laws will stop. We are not the criminals here.Real gun control must start with the illegal trade in weapons .then and only then will we have real control. If you make more laws or as some want , the removal of the second amendment to the constitution .Then only the criminals will have guns and that will be a mistake. The time has come for the US Government to step up and do what is right, Close down the illegal gun trade!
Anyone who wants Bloomberg for president should move to jollie old England. You don't deserve what the Founding Fathers forged and so many have died to preserve.
A multi-millionaire who relies on armed security feels he is in a position to dictate how others can protect themselves? Arrogant a$$!
We do not need gun control. We need crime control.
Some states want to require a "voter ID" so how about an amunition ID. When anyone buys the amount of amunition as the guy in Colorado did, it should require not only an ID, it should require finger prints. A federal database should be created to check it all out. Also, it was reported this guy put these purchases on a credit card. These credit card companies should question such purchases and notify the authorities. I believe everyone should be allowed to protect themselves in their home and those who like to hunt be allowed to own a gun for hunting, but that's enough; no AK47's. These measures won't stop people from using their guns to kill each other, but, hopefully, it would stop something of the magnitude that happened in Colorado.
I promise you that if the people in that theatre were armed that shooter would not have killed half as many as he did AND he'd be dead by now so we don't have to pay for his idiot murderous self to sit & rot in prison for the next 50 years. GUNS both legal or illegal do not kill people, evil people kill people. THe fact that he got his legally just means that he did nt' have a prior criminal record. He'd have gotten one either way since that was his intent.
Some states want to require a "voter ID" so how about an amunition ID. When anyone buys the amount of amunition as the guy in Colorado did, it should require not only an ID, it should require finger prints. A federal database should be created to check it all out. Also, it was reported this guy put these purchases on credit cards. These credit card companies should question such purchases and notify the authorities. I believe everyone should be allowed to protect themselves in their home and those who like to hunt be allowed to own a gun for hunting, but that's enough; no AK47's. These measures won't stop people from using their guns to kill each other, but, hopefully, it would stop something of the magnitude that happened in Colorado.
"Bloomberg calls for Action"
"Put up again thy sword...all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword"
(Matthew 26: 52; Revelation 13: 10).
However, it is necessary for war and purchase should only be given to those for
So much misingormation and emotional retoric. There are tens of millions of guns in our country in the hands of responsible and irresponsible people. Too many guns are out there to make gun control effective even if you wanted. We need intelligent conversation on how to deal with the irresponsible gun owners. I have no great ideas but the combative rhetoric is not useful.
Everyone should be able to have a knife. Nobody should have a tactical nuclear weapon. The balance is somewhere in between.
People are killed every day with illegal guns? Where's the outrage there? Guns are like drugs. Ban them and people will still get them easily enough. I could get an illegal gun a block from my office by end of the day today if I wanted. Not to mentioned, if you want to ban guns you need a Constitutional Amendment. Eliminate one of our rights through improper means, and you can eliminate any of them at will.
On the other hand if several people in the movie theater had legal, licensed, concealed handguns, this guy might have been shot before many were hurt.
Interesting – if I was in theater, I would have shot the killer. The guy 3 rows behind me, will shoot me, thinking I am the killer. And Mr.coolmusings here, would shot my attacker. In the darkness and confusion of the movie theater setting, and the panic of seeing someone shooting, everyone will impulsively end up shooting everyone else. Let's all have AK-47s, that will make it quicker. Hallelujah, God save America!!!
I knew it. Just a matter of time before people want us to hand over our weapons. Well.... you're not getting mine.
TomNPitt, you're way too logical for most of the morons in our society these days. Their idea of everyone being armed so that they can protect themselves is so stupid, it doesn't even warrent a comeback. That would just lead to more shootings, and the last time I checked, the police stopped this guy, not some NRA loving civilian in a movie theatre. Argument of he would've found another way just lets them get away w/having any type of rifle that they want. Why not just allow nuclear weapons, grenades, etc as a part of right to bear arms, because hey, he would've found a way !
We need more guns , not less .
Why don't they make a I phone automatic 40mm , then I can skip and shoot at the same time I play video games .
Good point Patriot, 12 people just died for your stupid right to bear arms. But I guess your argument is that the gun didn't kill the people, a person kiilled those people. Funny, but the gun is always there when people kill people, innocent bystander ?