(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
What the US needs is a change in attitude about guns, not gun control. The real issue is the American mindset that guns make you powerful; that guns command respect; that guns are a way to solve problems.
One of the things I think would help is for gun rights advocates to change their tone. The should move away from the "from my cold dead hands" attitude. Move away from the arguments that "only criminals would have guns" and "guns don't kill, people kill". Instead, they should help steer the conversation toward the idea that guns are a last resort defense, that guns are dangerous.
All weapons were purchased legally. Had that assault rifle not jammed, he would have killed more people. Why is it easy to purchase such a weapon? And why would ordinary citizens need it? What are they shooting up that needs rapid release of bullets in a short perioid of time? Oh a massacre just like this guy tried to pull. He also purchased thousands of bullets right over the internet. Why is this so easy? What's stopping someone else from doing the same thing? There should be a background check and a mental evaluation before someone can purchase a gun.
So a guy walks into a theater and kills 12 people and wounding dozens more. But yet not one person in that theater bothered to fire back with their gun.
Assault weapons are a last resort if society collapses. The government will not have the manpower to protect everybody against gangs and anarchy. Think this is impossible? Look at history and you will see that great empires fall all the time. It happened to the USSR recently. If there is a ban on assault weapons, it will not stop a black market from emerging and criminals from buying them. We can't even control our own boarders or win the endless war on drugs. How do you intend to defend your loved ones in the event of a massive economic and social collapse? Are you going to take on the gangs with your feeble pistol? Good luck with that. For those of you who think the USA is immune to such a terrible occurance- you are living in a fantasy land. Wake up and see the corruption and greed all around you destroying the fabric of this great country. When things finally get bad enough, the rich and powerful will simply hide behind their hired armies and protect their own interests while leaving you to the vultures.
If you cannot fire from a weapon or an ammo canister containig hundreds of rounds its a bit more difficult to kill a large number of people than when you can just squeeze a trigger and almost aimless fire off 60 rounds a minute in a crowded room. I think out neurology gunman was telling us something = hey guys this is crazy.
I dont want to stop you having six shooter at home or at your own business premises for self protection plus a max of 12 rounds of ammo or access to hunting rifle or shotgun. Within what I think the 2nd amendment gives and SCOTUS . To me the National guard is now the regulated militia.
You should be required to have a Licence with photo and verified address ( by the polce before you gun is delivered) and a license number which contains your weapons serial number. Which you are obliged to keep up to date and information held on a special database that prevents you from buying multiple guns and more Ammo than permitted ( gun clubs can sell ammunition which must be used or returned)
Carrying in a concealed weapon is nonsense and should be banned and very severe penalties introduced for criminals ( or anyone) who carries, added sentenes for use in crime even longer sentence if discharged during a crime whether anyone is hit or not.
Gun shop numbers musr be reduced and licensed with strict operating rules and strict rules for owners re registration and use.
Laws are not a preventative as the gun lobby keeps telling us, they are Moral set of reasonable rules... just as Murder is not prevented by laws which mean you can have your life taken.... you see morally I would never commit murder, I am however well aware of the death penalty deterrent, and I'd prefer to live rather than die.
Of course lunatics will get hold of guns, they like anyone else should not have access to owning multiple guns or any kind of automatic weapon firing more than six bullets.
Over time that will reduce criminal access to weapons and lessen the horrific effects that happened recently in Colorado. thats an improvement for little inconvenience Gun licens fees renewable annually pay for the laws and national database needed.
That gun did NOT walk into that theatre and start shooting...............some nut case did. Instead of trying to imply that nobody can be smart enough to own a gun, why not have S T R I C T E R penalties on those who do things like this? Why let them stay in a cushy prison and keep appealing theirs case????? Take them to trail, if their found guilty, give them the death penalty!!!!!
A gun is used to hunt game for survival or to protect oneself. When my two sons were born, I lived out in the country on 200 acres of land. I had a gun and knew how to use it. If someone had decided to break into our home, I had protection. That was safety.
I'm not a hunter. I do not own a gun and have not shot one for 16 years.
I believe, in bearing arms, for he right reasons.
more people die from drunk driving related accidents than "assault rifles", any of you know that? of course you didn't. oh but don't worry, we have a system in place to prevent minors from drinking. an ID check. works like a champ. and don't worry, we've designed your vehicle to go 160mph even though no where in the united states has a speed limit above like 85mph. you ask why does anyone need an "assault rifle"? well why do you need a vehicle that goes 160mph? how bout we regulate that? oh but since 12+ people aren't killed all at one time in one drunk driving accident, people don't really care, even though more people die from alcohol and vehicles than from an assault rifle over a year
The majority of gun violence in this country is committed by repeat offenders, not isolated acts of mass killings. I agree we do need tougher laws, but for those repeat offenders. We as a nation have become to soft on criminals in general. I strongly believe in the death penalty, if a person can be proven guilty beyond the shadow of a doubt. If a person wishes to inflict mass casualties they will use what ever means possible. Remember Oklahoma City? No gun was used by Timothy Mcveigh. 169 people lost there lives, perhaps we should ban the sale of diesel fuel and fertilizer. If someone intends to inflict mass casualties, they will find a way with or without guns!
The US military, homeland security, and local law enforcement spend more money on weapons and spy equipment than all the other countries in the world combined while Obama defunds social security and congress debates cutting health care for seniors. Bloomberg and Feinstein are wrong. I support the kind of gun control that honors the 2nd ammendment which lets citizens arm and defend themselves, but cuts the military and spy agency budgets so there is enough money to care for the old and ill among us.
We should also have stricter car laws. James Holmes used his car to drive to the theater.
Mitt Romney is the only candidate that has actually signed an assault weapons ban.
Gun control will start out one way and end up another...Small controls to start with maybe some bans on assault guns and ammo clips etc make everyone register any and all guns or risk confiscation....And then when they have all of us by the short and curlies someone like Bloomberg will start crying that it is not enough ...that we really need to ban any and all ownership of guns and seeing as how everyone has their guns registered all they got to do is send out the notices to turn all your weapons in or go to jail..We are not Australia...Guns made this country without them we are no longer free....yup that's how it starts one law at a time until we are owned by the idiots in government...Say no to gun control...
So, according to our wonderful Liberal/Progressive mindset on the issue of gun ownership, "one bad apple spoils the bunch". EXCEPT for Islamic terror, Occupy Wall Street thugs, the mentally ill, late-term abortion, welfare queens, etc. Anything horrible that happens for one of those groups, "Oh, that's only a fringe element...".
I like all the people saying he had an assault rifle assaultrifles are select fire weapons AR-15 is semi auto get it right if it were illegal you can still buy them on the black market jut becuse you ban it doesnt mean you cannot buy it there are all sorts of illegal objects materials that people still get. How long has cocaine ben illegal,crack ,heroin come on get real it will never stop because of the American mentality and comparing us to other countries that have a ban on weapons isnt even accurate. they still have mom and dad at home dont have street gangs like ours two different cultures and alot of those countries crime went up so let it be.
Well look at what happened in Texas last night.let's ban pick-up Trucks now or at least tighten control of them.
Thirteen killed in a pick-up crash in Texas.Now we can ban certain trucks or at least put stiffer controls on them.Think about it guns don't kill neither do pick-up trucks just people do these horrible things.If we had a little stiffer laws on child rearing a lot of this could be prevented from happening.A whole lot less games and TV would be a great start.
I am sick about what has happened here. With that said, if gun controle was going to work it already would have. (Stop yelling at me) We have many more laws on the books than most countries and in many ot the countries that I have been to I have been offered guns to purchase. Some of the best deals were in the most restrictive countries. I have been offered true assult rifles and hand granades in countries where they were illeagle. Now this guy used an AR-15. It is not a machine gun.
MM...An assault rifle is NOT a light machine gun. A machine gun is full auto. A semi-automatic is different than a fully automatic. Yes, someone could have stopped him if they were carrying with a concealed carry permit. You can't stop crazy.
A close parallel would be the failed War on Drugs, which has done nothing to curb illegal drug activity. The Government can pass all the "feel good" laws it wants to make it seem that they are doing something to stop gun violence, but there is no way that someone, who is deranged and hell-bent on getting and using guns to kill innocent people, will be stopped by pieces of paper.
we really need to focus on enforcing the gun-laws we already have instead of wasting time and money on writing new ones. you can debate "assualt" or "semi auto" to death and make no progress from a saftey stand point, sad but fact. we're also losing sight of the fact that this was the action of an obviously troubled INDIVIDUAL, stop with the knee-jerking already. a shooting in colorado does not require extra police in connecticut. as a culture we americans loose common sense on a regular basis, why can't we just take a breath and grow a brain.
Who didn't see this knee jerk reaction coming not even hours after it happened?? But yes, gun control laws do work, I mean look at how nobody in New York has guns, and nobody is shot in New York.... If we banned guns there'd be no more guns and gun related death. It all works out!
Ban guns because if you do every gun in existence will evaporate then nobody will have guns. Solves everything
Gun control laws ONLY AFFECT LAW ABIDING CITIZENS; criminals will get guns regardless of laws against them.
The answer is for more people to get a gun and a permit to legally carry it as a right defined by our Constitution.
Crime goes down as gun posession goes up; look at the Swiss crime rate compared to other countries.
True people kill people but with ID checks they may not get a gun now, but we might catch them tryng to get it illegaly