Aurora survivor applauds gun discussion, candidate answers disappoint
October 17th, 2012
11:08 AM ET
2 years ago

Aurora survivor applauds gun discussion, candidate answers disappoint

(CNN) – A question posed at Tuesday night's town hall-style debate opened up a discussion into the issue of gun violence, but a survivor of the deadly July shooting in Colorado said the candidates' responses were devoid of substantive ideas.

"The demands of 270,000 Americans for President Obama and Governor Romney to address gun violence broke through during tonight's debate," said Stephen Barton, a 22-year-old recent college graduate and Fulbright scholar, who survived a shot in the face and neck at the theater shooting in Aurora that left 12 others dead.

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Barton continued in a statement after the debate: "I am glad that a concerned citizen asked about guns – but sadly, there were no real answers. We are going to keep demanding a specific plan from both candidates to end gun violence."

Following the shooting, the candidates offered condolences to the victims' families and suspended campaign activities. Both campaigns also took down ads in the state, and Obama visited families of the victims two days after the massacre.

The first presidential debate was held in Denver at the end of September, just ten miles from the site of the July shooting at a midnight showing of the film "The Dark Knight Rises." Days before the first presidential match-up, Barton appeared in an ad sponsored by the group Mayors Against Illegal Guns pushing the candidates to address gun violence at the debate to no avail.

President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney faced-off again Tuesday night in Hempstead, New York in a town hall-style debate format. The candidates sparred on a range of issues, fielding questions from members of the 82-person, uncommitted-voters audience as well as follow-up questions from moderator CNN's chief political correspondent Candy Crowley.

Responding to a questioner who asked what his administration would do to limit the availability of assault weapons, Obama pushed to enforce the gun laws already in place. He suggested a reintroduction of an assault weapons ban and deeper look into the source of the violence, pivoting to better education as a preemptive strategy.

"What I'm trying to do is get a broader conversation about how do we reduce the violence generally. Part of it is seeing if we can get an assault weapons ban introduced but part of it is also looking at other sources of the violence," said Obama at the debate.

For his part, Romney concurred with the president on urging preemptive education in schools but also encouraged support of two-parent households as a means to deter poverty and foster opportunity.

"I'm not in favor of new pieces of legislation on guns and taking guns away or making certain guns illegal. We, of course, don't want to have automatic weapons, and that's already illegal in this country to have automatic weapons," said Romney.

He continued: "We can make changes in the way our culture works to help bring people away from violence and give them opportunity, and bring them in the American system."

The Republican nominee then pounced on a botched gun sting operation known as Fast and Furious that allowed hundreds of weapons to reach violent Mexican drug cartel. Many of the weapons were "lost" and two of were found at the scene of the murder of a U.S. Border Patrol agent sparking an investigation into the operation and drawing criticism of the Obama administration.

Crowley noted that Romney signed an assault weapon ban when he served as governor of Massachusetts but no longer supports this legislation. Romney, in turn, reiterated that the Massachusetts assault weapon ban was a "mutually agreed-upon piece of legislation."

"That's what we need more of, Candy. What we have right now in Washington is a place that's gridlocked," he said.

To that, Obama quipped: "I think Governor Romney was for an assault weapons ban before he was against it."

CNN's Kevin Liptak contributed to this report.


Filed under: 2012 • Gun rights • Mitt Romney • President Obama • Presidential Debate
soundoff (27 Responses)
  1. gt

    the nra will never support obama....obama went against christians on homosextual marraiage why dont he say ban all of these types of guns...these guys wont vote for him anyway....

    October 17, 2012 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  2. truth hurts

    Well, Obama's response should sure as heck should motivate the NRA supporters to get out there and vote against him. He did his usual pandering to try and please the questioner. Basically, yes, I agree, whatever it takes to get your vote, will you vote for me now?

    The thousands and thousands of gun laws on the books are more than enough to deal with gun violence. The lunatic in Colorado was building bombs and booby traps! He violated a LONG list of laws. Problem is lunatics don't care about laws.

    October 17, 2012 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  3. Guest

    Criminals dont follow laws people. That isnt the answer. Secure our borders and our ports. DEPORT ILLEGALS! Get tough on convicted criminals, prison doesnt reform. Crackdown on illegal drugs not the size of a soft drink. Use our police resources more effectively not handing out parking tickets and speeding tickets. Come on! It doesnt take a rocket scientist to figure this out.

    October 17, 2012 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  4. gr8 usa

    First, Mitt doesn't know the facts. Some assault weapons are still legal. Second, I know some amazing single parent families, and some of the most violent people I've ever met have come from two parent families. The dig on single parent families made me sick.

    October 17, 2012 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  5. bob

    Gun control should be the issue that proves to all americans that lobbyists rule washington...and you. No one needs assault weapons that dispense rounds of bullets in a matter of seconds for hunting or to protect themselves. Yet neither candidate could come out and say lets ban them. Obama came close, but even he has to worry about the NRA and their strangle hold on politicians.

    October 17, 2012 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  6. Borderless

    I oppose the NRA. I support gun control to an extreme. But my concerns over Obama's complete incompetence far outweigh those views.

    Romney/Ryan 2012

    October 17, 2012 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  7. GI Joe

    Romney found out he IS NOT the boss. He went absolutely Psychotic when someone stood up to him.

    Mitt – once a bully, always a bully. Rude, crude and Ignorant.

    Obama/Biden 2012

    October 17, 2012 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  8. It's All Mythology

    The Government is never getting my guns unless they kill me first. Gun ownership is the only barrier to a totalitarian fascist government. The State as a Mental Health Care Giver is the issue not gun ownership. Stop buying into fascistic policies because of fear mongering. It is still extremely safe to go to the movies with your family.

    October 17, 2012 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  9. Borderless

    It always makes me laugh win Obama supporters call Romney out for being rude while applauding the exact same behavior in Biden. Such silly, oblivious little people.

    October 17, 2012 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  10. JES V

    It was evident that the moderator was biased toward Obama. She made sure that she gave him the opportuntiy to have the last word and even defended his policies to a degree. Romney had to fight to have his say. Very disturbing to see so called professionals compromise their professionalism and principles. The media is outrightly trying to do everything to get Obama reelected.

    October 17, 2012 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  11. Duval

    Crazy and deranged people always hurt larger society and more gun laws are not the answer. All but two of the men in my immediate family have a Concealed Handgun License and where I live you don't actually need it anyway now to due to another law. I view a gun as a tool just like an emergency kit or a spare tire in my car. All of these items are usually unseen and forgotten but if you ever need them are irreplacable. If you choose to be unprepared that is a personal decision.

    October 17, 2012 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  12. sonny chapman

    Another Fed. Assault Weapon Ban & a ban on 30 round ammo clips WOULD save lives; even a few. But the NRA will not allow this to happen. Until Members of Congress fear voters who support this legislation more than they fear the NRA, it ain't gonna happen. Good luck trying to talk over the Fox News, NRA & Republican Noise Machine in getting that voter support.

    October 17, 2012 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  13. dog1

    On another subject that no one has raised: When Romney asked the President about his pension why hasn't anyone asked Hey Mitt what about your pensions? You know, the pensions you took from all those workers at the companies you "HARVESTED" (his own words, check the video), the pension money that's now in your Cayman or Swiss bank accounts. Oh yeah, I forgot you invested it in those Chinese companies you keep complaining about.

    October 17, 2012 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  14. freedom

    @ JesV I totally agree. Candy Crowley crossed a line as moderator and misspoke in favor of one of the debators (Obama) – that has to be against the rules. It is clear who the upstanding gentleman and strong leader is between the two. The Obama administration, as well as the media are threatened by Romney's strong record and strength of character.

    October 17, 2012 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  15. gr8 usa

    Proof that Romney lost the debate...all the Romney supporters blaming the moderator (who simply made everyone follow the rules they agreed upon).

    October 17, 2012 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  16. NOTADEMOCRAT

    Want to protect yourself against gun violence? Then buy a gun!!

    The Denver shooter drove passed 5 other theaters that night.., Why?? Because he knew a theater that had a "No Guns Allowed" sign out front! A place where he could get a maximum effect without interruption. Something the progressive mindless seem to want everywhere.

    October 17, 2012 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  17. pearl

    Waiting to see if the news media calls out Obama on the lies. When will they start working for the people. To bad they are not elected, I agree Romney was never able to finish a point.

    October 17, 2012 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  18. Daniel

    You know what I would have liked to have brought up in the Gun discussion.

    The overwhelming majority of the victims in Aurora were not injured by an Assault Rifle the question was about. The majority were injured by a simple shotgun.

    October 17, 2012 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  19. Larry in Houston

    I'm glad that BOTH of the candidates have the same Views – regarding the right to bear arms. The republicans seem to always think that the democrats are going to "take away their guns" – - which has been a bunch of hogwash from the begining. I'm a democrat – all the kennedy's were democrats – & I can go on & on about democrats that hunt , as a sport. I don't about anyone else, but I hunt with hunting rifles, or shotguns, Not A – K 47's. Can you imagine hunting with an A-K 47 ? a rabbit or squirrel would be blown to smithereens.
    Vote Democrat – 2012
    Hillary – 2016

    October 17, 2012 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  20. thinking outside the box

    Guest

    Criminals dont follow laws people. That isnt the answer. ...
    ______________________________________________________

    So do you suggest we throw out all laws simply because criminals do not follow them? Should murder not be illegal?

    October 17, 2012 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  21. Larry in Houston

    I'm glad that BOTH of the candidates have the same Views – regarding the right to bear arms. The republicans seem to always think that the democrats are going to "take away their guns" – – which has been a bunch of hogwash from the begining. I'm a democrat – all the kennedy's were democrats – & I can go on & on about democrats that hunt , as a sport. I don't know about anyone else, but I hunt with hunting rifles, or shotguns, Not A – K 47's. Can you imagine hunting with an A-K 47 ? a rabbit or squirrel would be blown to smithereens.
    Vote Democrat – 2012
    Hillary – 2016

    October 17, 2012 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  22. Thomas

    Both Obama and Romney don't want to touch this one , yet when they go to bed at night , I'm sure they and there wives think of what the impact a bullet from an assault rifle has on the human body .

    I thought Romney's answer was like Mr Rodgers neighborhood . As Governor I brought both pro gun people and anti gun people together , we worked out a great policy .

    Thank God for ObamaCare , RomneyCare , at least were insured when were shot !

    October 17, 2012 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  23. Phil

    This was such a waste of a question and a waste of time. Automatic weapons are illegal. Felons can't own a gun. Gun laws are in place. There will always be guns on the street because the guns are not evil its the people that use them and make a profit off them. Instead of looking at DC for an answer, how about breaking down on CO. Guns dont' kill people. Stupid and Crazy people kill people.

    October 17, 2012 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  24. Steve

    Obama was in cahoots with Candy Corn...that was crystal clear. It's bad enough for a moderator to insert herself into a debate and take sides, it's a completely new level to do and still get it wrong. The American people know FOR A FACT Obama didn't call the attack in Benghazi a terror attack. The fact that he used the words "acts of terror" had nothing to do with Libya. It's Clinton all over again and we all know what "is" meant then, and means now. This is a cover-up worse than Watergate or Iran Contra...and the President of the United States is hiding beneath his desk in the oval office.

    October 17, 2012 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  25. Al-NY,NY

    if someone wanted to get an RPG, the NRA would support them. And since Flip is their pawn, well you know what he'd do

    October 17, 2012 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
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