(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
Gun control laws do not apply to criminals. No laws apply to them. You folks actually think a wacko this intent and dilebrate is actually going to consider gun control laws? That is like saying the Mexican drug cartels are going to respect our drug laws. Totally ban all firearms. Criminals are going to have firearms and anything else they need to live out their thrills.
We'll get gun control laws when the majority of americans feel strongly enough about it to do something. And not until then. It's not up to our leaders. It's up to the citizens.
I have a qeustion about these gun laws. I dont disagree on hunters having guns because the use them to provide food. I dont disagree someone owning a pistol for protection, BUT why would we allow semi-automatic guns? There is no purpose for these. These should be outlawed, PERIOD!!!
When will the liberal media, and left wingers like Shumer, Feinstein, and yes Bloomberg understand that you can't legislate sanity. New York City has the toughest gun laws in this country, but a long history of failure to stop crime. He chooses to blame other states, rather than to face the reality of his own failure and the failure of those like him. The 2nd amendment has NOTHING to do with hunting. When anyone uses hunting and the 2nd amendment in the same sentence to promote the legitimacy of more gun control regulations they lose ALL credibility period. One more thing, an ASSAULT rifle is a fully automatic firearm, not a semiautomatic. It can be used to DEFEND as well as ASSAULT. The anti-gun crowd love to imply an intent versus the reality of EVERY firearm ever invented can be used for both purposes. Semi-auto firearms nave been in circulation in this world for over 100 years.
Stricter gun laws will solve nothing. Registering guns again will solve nothing. As was mentioned in the article Norway has some of the strictess guns laws which did not stop the crime. When a deranged person decides to commit such a crime there is no defense. Its the conviction of the criminal which determines if they will succeed. Making people responsible for their weapons and extreme penalties for using a weapon in a crime will deter the average person but in this case as mentioned what this individual would have done in leu of using a weapon most likely would have been even worse. I know there are many that would disagree with me but had a few responsible and trained people been armed in the audiance there would have been fewer people killed and injured.
There should be guns in the hands of law abiding citizens. Had someone in that theater had a concealed carry permit with his/her weapon it would have been over in just few seconds with very few casualties.
Think the likelihood the shooter is a Leftist is very high. Just like in AZ. By shooting all those people he proved the need to prevent people like him from getting guns. So when people talk about who did the most to promote the new gun laws the shooter will be able to say he built that.
Note that Mayor Bloomberg isn't giving up the guns of the dozens of heavily armed cops he demands provide around the clock security for his home and family.
So when is Mayor Bloomberg going to set an example for us and disarm his dozens of bodyguards?
First and foremost what happened in CO is a tragedy. For the record I am a staunch supporter of the 2nd amendment. For those that don't know, the meaning of militia is different now than at the writing of the of the Bill of Rights. To say that it refers to the national guard is incorrect as the national guard was not formed until 1903. The militia act passed on May of 1792 defines what consist a militia. since the second amendment predates the militia act it follows that the Right to bears arms is protected for all citizens.
as well as the supreme court has stated the the second amendment applies to all citizens.
If there had been one person in the theater with the right to carry, maybe, just maybe, the shooter would be dead now, while I agree that the normal individual does not need an assault weapon, just remember that ANYTIME, you give the government permission to change anything, it will never stop changing – first it will be the assault rifle, next it will be the semi automatic weapons, which a lot of hunters use, then it will be 9m,m, hand guns and on and on and on until we have nothing. We are the ONLY country with a law like the 2nd amendment and that is the reason we gained our independence and the reason we have been able to continue to keep it, as far as I am concerned anything the government tries to change to make it better, only screws it up worse – I have little or no faith in our government today, and if we let them have their way with gun control we are screwed!
MM, At first I felt the same way as you but as I reasoned it through I knew I wasn't making sense. This man knew how to build bombs. He was obviously very intelligent and very sick. Even if he did not have any guns he would have had the means and knowledge to create horrible devastation. Bombs could have been much worse. So it wouldn't have stopped him.
The people on this blog calling for gun control is the exact reason why we need the NRA. Fear and overreaction are a fool's road to what old Ben Frankilin once hinted at which is people who are willing to trade liberties for a little security will get and deserve neither. Take this incident for what it is, a LONE idiot with his mind set on causing mayhem. Regiserting guns would not have stopped this incident. Get a grip people.
.It's unfortunate that lunitics are going to commit stupid acts like this one in colorado and burden all other law abiding ,responsible firearm owners with fighting to keep their 2nd amendment rights in tact.Gun control is what the extream left have been wanting for years. If they had their way ,the public wouldn't be able to own any firearm of any kind. First they ban semiautomatic weapons,then they ban pistols ,then that opens the door for all other rifles,shot guns, pistols and even pellit rifles.Once they get the door open they won't want to stop.There are firearm laws in place already, they need to refine those laws intead of making more laws that just add to the bureaucracy.
@vic , nashville ,tn
the police where a little to late.
the supreme court has ruled that the police have no duty to protect you or anyone
Nothing is going to happen until someone will buy a Tank and a machine gun over the internet, and will make "Red Army invasion" on our az, NOTHING IS GOING TO HAPPEN. NRA outspending $2.9 million to $600.000 of gun Control proponents money.
I am not sure how it works in the US but I do believe its a constitutional right to carry a gun for SELF protection or something like that...but Bloomberg is so right. Okay fine carry a gun for protection, small caliber, enough to protect yoursef. But hi powered, hi velocity or automatic weapons are way off the mark. Shotguns for hunting, yes. But, the Aurora shooting also involved purchasing loads of real defense gear...Holy Cow, I am a little old grandma, not a rocket scientist and I can figure out -that if this guy bought all this stuff LEGALLY there is something wrong with the LAWS. Gun purchases should be limited to the use of the buyer. If the gun purchasing form had to be signed by 3 or more sponsors, (Sponsors that verify they know the person and how that person is going to use the gun)...might limit access to more mass murders...Then, the number of cartriges and ammo needs to be regulated. If a guy bought 6000 rounds; me as a granny would wonder if I was filling the order – What in the hell is this guy doing with 6000 rounds. GUN CONTROL should be just like a passport – in order to get one, you need 2,3,4 sponsors. You are given a GUN PASSPORT identifying the guns you own, ammo tracking etc,,,any excess ammo purchases "tracked" and the whole collection of information should be in one on line data base – accessible by vendors, law officials, seconday gun sellers(pawn shops) etc..I can only think the current laws and situation OBVIOUSLY aren't working, ammendments, changes stiffer penalties must be addressed. What did those 12 poor people do to deserve loosing their lives, if they died to generate action on gun controls and make some long over due changes. Their death may save others and someone should be held accountable if nothing is done.
350 million Americans, what percentage goes on shooting sprees? Yes, the weepy answer is too many, but instead of trying to disable us against the rigged elections and two party joke that we suffer under, how about we try to sell more mental healthcare instead of disarming ourselves against the inevitable 1984. 1984 is going to come because we are a nation in decline, just like Germany suffering under the Wiemar Republic, our currency is becoming a joke, the Canadian Dollar is now worth more than our over glorified Camel Cash, the value of gold has not gone up, our dollar has gone down. We are on a tilting point, the stupidest of all possible responses to this is gun control, we need to defend ourselves against our government now more than ever. Their fangs are dripping and we are the lambs they seek to feast on. The hysterical theatrics of trying to sell this fluke as more than a statistical anomaly is the proof in the pudding they are seeking to disarm us for a greater and truer sodomy. When the high power rifles go, so will at least a third of the population. They will no longer even have to go through the motions of treating us as men, we will be livestock and nothing more. We will die on their bayonets or we will toil for their luxuries, when the rifles are gone we won't be able to drag any of them to the grave with us.
Bloomberg should ban assault weapons in NYC first.
First, my prayers and sympathy to the surviving family members, victims and deceased...I never post to these...but I am a gun owner and hunter...I read the comments of people criticizing the owners of assault rifles with the stance they are NOT necessary" or "WHY do you need them"...using that same point, why do we allow different kinds of breads, cars, trucks, clothes....who NEEDS $300 sneakers ? who NEEDS different cars (kill more people than guns)? who NEEDS cars that go faster than 70mph ? who NEEDS alcohol ? WHY sell candy or tobacco ? We cannot protect ourselves from mentally ill people completely...as long as there is a free society some things like this will always happen...It is NOT right and i cannot imagine the pain the families are enduring...but government limitation of WHAT we purchase is NOT the answer....once an act like this is carried out he can never be let out in public again...we cannot begin to 'guess' what harm people are going to do....gasoline bombs and shotguns would have been just as deadly if not more so...again, my prayers and sympathy to the family and survivors and god bless those who were murdered....
"Leadership is...not...finding out what the people want and then doing it." Mayor Bloomberg's contempt for the public that he is supposed to serve is emblematic of the elitist attitude of our contemporary political leaders. His statement shows why the American people have such a low opinion of elected officials and why representative government is failing in the US.
MM and others,
Our 2nd amendment rights were established so citizens could protect themselves from an tyrannical and abusive government. Regulation of those rights is FORBIDDEN by the preamble and was confirmed by the founding fathers. Period. They were NOT put in place so people could hunt deer, protect themselves from other citizens or any other purpose. The Bill of Rights are universal and considered to be given by GOD to every person born. While these incidents are tragic, the facts are that homicide by guns is an extraordinarily rare event when total population mortality causes are considered. Unfortunately, anti-American groups use every excuse to push their treasonous destruction of the constitution in the name of "safety", "hunting" or some other equally ridiculous babble.
"That the said Constitution shall never be construed to authorize Congress to infringe .....or to prevent the people of the United states who are peaceable citizens from keeping their own arms...– Samuel Adams.
"The best we can hope for concerning the people at large is that they be properly armed."- Alexander Hamilton, The Federalist Papers
Leave the Constitution alone. Grieve the dead, punish the guilty and get over it.
At the end of the day, nothing will happen regarding gun control in America. The NRA owns every Republican in the House and Senate, and the NRA has every Democrat hiding under his or her desk. So what can the average person on the street do about gun violence in America? Sadly, the answer is "Nothing". Stay home, do not go to theaters, restaurants, shopping malls, schools, your workplace, the streets, the highways, or the sidewalk in front of your home. Guns Rule! Assault Rifles Rule! Multi-Round Magazines for Semi-Automatic Weapons Rule! It sort of reads like a story from Cairo, or Bagdad, or Tripoli. Sleep well tonight, your Second Amendment Rights are secure in the hands of the NRA.
In Australia, when Martin Bryant massaccred 30 people, our government was quick to act on gun control and thousands of licensed and unlicensed gun owners handed in their automatic and semi-automatic weapons. It was a move supported by a pragmatic public who believed the protection of people's lives was more important than the rights of individuals to own such weapons. America should wake up and realise that though protected by their constitution, the right to bear arms should not extend to the right to own powerful weapons of mass destruction. And that's exactly what high powered assault riffles and the like are. I cannot imagine any genuine need for such weapons. It is insane that even after so many massacres, America is still reluctant to genuinely debate the issue.
The right to bear arms is there for a purpose. It is not for "hunters" or any other nonsense. It is there as a means of the people to protect themselves from tyranny and oppression. Period. Gun control has repeatedly been shown to be totally ineffective.
Mortality from gunfire while sensational and horrific is statistically insignificant. Grief the victims, punish the guilty, and leave the constitution alone.