(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
Throw out all not guilty by reason of insanity. Establish guilty but insane and require mandatory life commitment. Arizona shooter is a prime example of getting away with multiple murders..
How about we enforce the laws we already have? That would be a novel idea.
The whole topic of gun control is sure going to be under scrutiny. I wish that we could come together and get answers but i'm afraid that that is just not going to happen. I don't think tougher gun control will help..sure i have some answers but they too will not be popular with a lot of people. The thing is, some of us are just plain ole broken..be it spirt, body or just a screw in our heads..i mean..if some guy starts swingin in a crowd in Time Square, with a box cutter, are we going to try and control box cutters next..There is no easy fix..but if there is anything we need to try and control it's ourselves...
CNN's Liptak said, "...Democrats, who in the 1990s were vocal in pushing for tighter gun laws, rarely address the issue today." I wonder if he knows America's murder rate declined from 9.4 per 100,000 to 4.8. And robbery declined from 257 per 100,000 to 119.1 per 100,000. Feinstein and her lefty pals would totally deny arms to the American people and have them depend on the police for protection. That doesn't seem to be working out very well lately and won't because that's not what law enforcement does. Like it or not, America is a great nation because the people who make her work are self-reliant. And self-reliance includes self-protection.
Why is it that we can limit our first amendment, freedom of speech, for public safety but limiting access to certain weapons is just not acceptable to some groups? It is against the law to falsely yell fire in a theater or even to knowingly make false accusations about a person but given a license we can walk the streets with an assult rifle. My point is not what has the potential to cause more damage but that we do limit our freedoms so that we do not infringe on the freedoms of others.
Let's not forget all the assault weapons in the hands of the military and police, which are actually being paid for with TAX DOLLARS! Why does Bloomberg allow the NYPD to carry weapons, the only reason for which is to kill people?
Drunk drivers kill up to 3x as many people as handguns do. Why the push to ban guns and not alcohol. ???
From the New York Times Mr. Bloomberg.
The news was not as positive in New York City, however. After leading a long decline in crime rates, the city saw increases in all four types of violent lawbreaking — murder, rape, robbery and aggravated assault — including a nearly 14 percent rise in murders
hey bloomberg, how are new york cities strict firearms laws working out for you? handguns( unless you have a permit ) are banned in nyc, is this correct? how many gangbangers have been through the permit process?
Tougher gun control laws will do little to address this issue. In fact it may even make them worse. In the instances in which gun control laws were relaxed violent crime actually dropped 70 percent. Criminal do not want to get shot thus they focus on areas in which people cannot defend themselves. Police cannot arrive in time to help you during a crime, it is something you must deal with on the spot with the police picking up the pieces. Sure there are going to be accidents but the answer is more gun training for U.S. Citizens. Expand the number of classes available for citizens to take so that if they do buy a weapon they have a skill set to implement when and if they have a need to use such weapon. For example I was brought up around guns. I was taught how to use them and care for them as a child. After being taught there was never any chance I would play with a gun and accidently shoot someone. My curiosity was assuaged. I also knew the TV programs and Movies I watched were not real as after shooting various guns I knew one could not hide behind a 50 gallon drum or the corner of a house and be protected as the bullet would simply pass through the material and kill you. No illusions, just a stark reality of the danger of such weapons thus I treat them with the respect they deserve. If local laws had allowed guns into that theatre carried by people with proper training, then, the outcome of that shooting may have been a lot different. Google the video of the 71 year old man in the internet cafe. Two armed robbers enter the cafe, they never get a chance to hurt anyone as the older man pulled out his own gun and shot the men, ending the robbery and possible murders before they happened. Education and training is the answer not stricter controls.
Nice. Not one of the victims has been buried yet, and both sides are already starting to dance on the graves. It began with the "we need more gun laws" (Hint, make all the one's you want, criminals still won't follow them), to "we need more guns" (not necessarily going to help either). Can't both sides let people bury their dead, recover from their wounds both physical and mental, and then start these discussions?
Thank you,for disarming law abiding Americans.They pose the Only real threat to our way of life.
NOW all the liberals that read the above stop & think about.The statement!
If only (1) one person on that day had a weapon on them.Just maybe that one person could of shot & stopped this manic!
Gun politics in Switzerland are unique in Europe. The personal weapon of militia is kept at home as part of the military obligations. Switzerland has one of the highest militia gun ownership rates in the world. In recent times political opposition has expressed a desire for tighter gun regulations. A referendum in February 2011 rejected stricter gun control.
In some 2001 statistics, it is noted that there are about 420,000 assault rifles stored at private homes, mostly SIG SG 550 types. Additionally, there are some 320,000 semi-auto rifles and military pistols exempted from military service in private possession, all selective-fire weapons having been converted to semi-automatic operation only. In addition, there are several hundred thousand other semi-automatic small arms classified as carbines. The total number of firearms in private homes is estimated minimally at 1.2 million to 3 million.
Police statistics for the year 2006 records 34 killings or attempted killings involving firearms, compared to 69 cases involving bladed weapons and 16 cases of unarmed assault. Cases of assault resulting in bodily harm numbered 89 (firearms) and 526 (bladed weapons). As of 2007, Switzerland had a population of about 7,600,000. This would put the rate of killings or attempted killings with firearms at about one for every quarter million residents yearly. This represents a decline of aggravated assaults involving firearms since the early 1990s. The majority of gun crimes involving domestic violence are perpetrated with army ordnance weapons, while the majority of gun crime outside the domestic sphere involves illegally held firearms.
Perhaps it is not the Gun laws in the US that need changing, perhaps it is other values…. As in accountability for committing a crime.
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. I've read about this sort of incident for many years, and often the killer has lots of time to walk around and shoot person after person after person. The police cannot protect you - there aren't enough of them and they can't be everywhere. If you can't stop the crazies, then make it possible for people who pass rigorous background checks to carry concealed weapons - perhaps even consider subsidizing such self-defense weapons.
For those calling for stricter laws: Isn't murder already against the law? Isn't making bombs, already against the law? Why believe that adding one more law is going to do more? It's just foolish, wishful thinking.
Mayor Bloomberg just wants to confiscate all weapons from everyone but his ruling class. Kinda sounds like Karl Marx, doesn't it?
take the guns away and who has them, crooks. when will you learn, its not the guns, its the people, are we really going to the Marxist obama state where all people are under government control, sounds like it. Watch the movie Red Dawn and you can see how they found out who owned the guns.
So much ignorance. Find me where in the 2nd ammendment that has anything to do with hunting?
Btw, motor vehicles can all drive over 65 miles per hour. Who here needs a sportscar? who hear needs a motorcycle? Why aren't we advocating the mandatory installation of governors on all cars? No one "needs" to drive those higher speeds. Just allow the state police to drive faster and car chases will be a thing of the past, no?
Come on. Do you have a right to exceed the speed limit? No. But the majority of people do it multiple times a day. Well guess what. I'm a responisble gun owner who has owned "assault rifles for 26 years. A responsible gun owner did not kill all those people in the movie theater. But I understand. Even though "assault rifles" are used in less than 5% of murders you want to punish every law abiding citizen. "For the greater good", right? Well then we need to ban alcohol. Are you down with that? How about cocaine and herion. You want to ban that too so that people cannot use those drugs? Oh, wait. That doesn't work, does it?
Anyone who thinks that gun control laws will make a difference now is just kidding themselves or trying to make themselves feel safer. There are so many weapons in the US that stopping the sales of any particular gun now is a waste of time. Anyone can get whatever they want almost whenever they want from a variety of legal and illegal sources. It's time we just face the fact that these types of tragic events are going to happen on occasion. I know that if I had been in that theater I would have had my licensed concealed carry weapon and I would have at least tried to protect myself. I can't think of anything worse in this day and age than to be helpless when some crazy goes off the edge and have to sit somewhere just waiting to be shot.
The Colorado shooting is not a gun control issue. This was clearly an act of terrorism. This was a strategically planned event as is noted by the individual booby-trapping his apartment with improvised explosives with the intent to create a diversion drawing first responders away from the intended target.
Looking at US cities with some of the most restrictive gun laws such as New York City, Chicago, Detroit, LA Washington, D.C. Why is it they also have some of the highest gun crimes. Could it be that the gun crimes are being committed by criminals and not law-abiding citizens?
Looking at other counties with gun bans and or extremely restrictive gun laws, they still have gun violence. Who is it that is perpetrating those crimes? Not the law-abiding individual but the person with the Illegal weapon.
Dear mm. He had an assault weapon. Not an assault rifle. It looks and shares characteristics with an assault rifle but it semi-auto. He did not have a full auto rifle.
This is very simple. Stop internet selling of guns and any company that allows 6,000 rounds of ammunition to be sold and not question why anyone would need to much ammunition.
Stop the selling, on the internet or anywhere else, of bullet proof vests and everything else this killer bought to protect himself. He had armor on that the police don't wear. I wonder who comes out winning on a shootout!!
The right to arms is past. It was implemented in the days when the law was not around everry corner.
We had an incident in MD years ago where one man who had already killed was oled up in the bathroom of a motel. He escaped police, left all his guns and ammunition behind, only to break into a house, tie up the family and steal those guns (and ammunition) they had to protect themselves against people like him!!
The U.S. Constitution gives Americans “The Right to Bear Arms”, however, it should be legislated that anyone, excluding on-duty Law Enforcers, must carry an easily identifiable (Government Issue) fluorescent arm-band, when carrying a firearm. “Fair Notice” is what every individual deserves.
Guns are illegal in Mexico, how well is that working?
I would lik to hear some ideas from the NRA and the Republicans. The Conservatives brag about how they are the party of the second amenment. That would mean te shooter is a Republican. He's a gun owner. He quite legally executed his right to free speech. I don't thnk most people want to pry the gun from your cold dead hands. But they would like to see an end to this type of mass execution. How about you come up wit an idae instead of that stale, "They would have found a way to di it anyway". What's the old line -You're either part of th soluton, or you're part of the problem. Hey NRA – what's your idea?? More people need to own guns so they can fight back?? Give us somethig besides campaigjn contributions to gun advoctes! Give us a clue of your gun based society! Restricting the purchase isn't an idea. It's a campaign slogan – for both sides.
It is easier to buy WEAPONS AND AMMO on the internet, than it is to buy RAZOR BLADE CARTRIDGES in a drugstore.
STRICTER GUN LAWS NOW !!!!!!!