(CNN) – As Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama prepare to square off at Wednesday's presidential debate in Denver, a survivor of the deadly shooting outside that city in July is pushing the candidates to spell out plans to stem deadly gun violence.
Stephen Barton, a 22-year old recent college graduate and Fulbright scholar, was shot in the face and neck during the July 20 movie theater shooting in Aurora, Colorado, that left 12 others dead. In an ad set to air nationally during Wednesday's debate, Barton sits in an empty movie theater and says he was lucky to survive the massacre.
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"In the next four years, 48,000 Americans won't be so lucky," he continues in the commercial, which is sponsored by the group Mayors Against Illegal Guns. "Because they'll be murdered with guns in the next president's term, enough to fill over two hundred theaters. So when you watch the presidential debates, ask yourself, 'Who has a plan to stop gun violence?'"
Speaking on CNN's "Starting Point with Soledad O'Brien" Monday, Barton said neither candidate has offered enough of a plan to stop guns from being used to kill people.
"We're just disappointed that Gov. Romney and President Obama haven't addressed gun violence in a concrete, specific way," Barton said. "And so basically we're demanding a plan from both of them. In advance of a presidential election, and presidential debate in Denver, and asking that they put forth something specific, aside from just platitudes and moments of silence, and actually get down to the business of preventing that violence."
Following the Colorado shooting, both Romney and Obama offered condolences for the victims, as well as suspended campaign activities and stripped their ads from Colorado airwaves. Two days after the massacre, Obama flew to Aurora to meet with families of the victims.
The question of tighter restrictions on owning guns has been largely ignored in this year's presidential campaign, even following the rampage in Colorado and an August shooting at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin. Democrats, who in the 1990s were vocal in pushing for tighter gun laws, rarely address the issue today, and Republicans generally oppose tighter gun restrictions.
Speaking aboard Air Force One on July 22 as the president flew to meet with families of those killed in the Colorado shooting, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said Obama did not have plans to push for new laws in light of the massacre.
Romney, in an interview with CNN's Piers Morgan on July 26, said he did not "support new gun laws in our country."
The presumptive GOP nominee added later that "the effort to continue to look for some law to somehow make violence go away is missing the point."
On CNN Monday, Barton said the issue of gun violence needed to be spoken about more on the campaign trail.
"Aside from just having a mention of it in the debates, we hope that it actually becomes a relevant issue in this election," he said. "That despite the fact that there's sensitive politics involved, that both candidates address the issue in a specific way."
This solely my opnion–we need gun control laws. But NRA pour money for GREED. Long way to go.
This is a pathetic attempt to garner support for gun control, because the Democratic Party wants to have the citizens unarmed, for a planned seizure of the country.
Everyone with a brain, knows that gun control will simply take the guns out of the hands of citizens, making them defenseless against a political coup in America.
Guns are not the problem, in America. We Have ALWAYS had guns. The people in America, are the problem! Nothing is being done about the people of America, who are a danger to others. Absolutely NOTHING!
Gun shows and other private sales need to be required to perform the same background checks that shops and retailers do. Gun owners who have guns "stolen" should be required to report the theft so when the gun turns up later in a crime, it will be clear who are the straw purchasers who buy guns for felons and the mentally ill. And those who want something done about gun violence need to to make a better case and a bigger effort to elect legislators who will push these kind of measures.
This kind of emotional pandering is exactly why we need educated and rational voters who understand that a) violence is societal in nature, independent of the tools available for said violence, b) more restrictive gun purchase/possession/transport laws do NOT result in safer communities (the opposite, in fact) and c) the founders of this nation fully understood that a government that is allowed to declaw its populace will ultimately become abusive of liberty. Defense of self, family and home is a fundamental human/civil right.
"Democrats, who in the 1990s were vocal in pushing for tighter gun laws..."
Even the Democrats have figured out that while gun violence is a statistically very rare event, gun-rights people are very, very, common. A majority, in fact. Trying to punish the 99.999... percent of gun owners who've never caused a bit of harm with their weapons because a very few crazies abuse guns is not only wrong, but it's a losing political proposition.
I'm sorry Mr Barton got hurt, but my guns and I had nothing to do with that, nor had the guns of the other 150 million Americans who own them.
We've seen Obama's gun plan. Put guns in the hands of Mexican gangs, and dont make any effort to track it. People died because of Obama's inept administration, and all they want to do is ignore it!
The University of Denver is where the first presidential debate will take place on Oct. 3. Aurora, CO is 15 miles from the the debate site and Columbine, CO is 133 miles. Most people are aware of the significance of these two places and gun violence. (12 people were killed and 58 wounded in a mass shooting inside a movie theater on July 20, 2012 in Aurora. A total of 15 people were killed plus the two gunmen at Columbine High School on April 20, 1999. If the candidates dodge the discussion of gun violence in the debate as they have on the campaign trail, this speaks volumes about the political process in this country. Silence is not a solution.