July 22nd, 2012
10:53 AM ET
9 years ago

As politicians question value of gun control, Bloomberg calls for action

(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."

Also see:

- 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

Filed under: Colorado • Gun rights • John McCain • State of the Union
soundoff (291 Responses)
  1. Vernon

    Talk all you want, but you're NOT TAKING AWAY FROM 2ND AMENDMENT RIGHTS. GOT IT?

    July 22, 2012 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  2. Crystalstar

    We dont need more gun control we need more PEOPLE CONTROL. We already have laws and it doesn't matter. This man had no history and just wanted to be the Joker. That had nothing to do with gun control. It has to do with HIM!!

    July 22, 2012 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  3. Garcho

    "But to think that somehow gun control, or increased gun control, is the answer, in my view, that has to be proved."

    It is proven, you cynical twit, in every country in the world that has tough gun laws. Pull your head out of the sand and act like a man and confront reality with reality, as opposed to hiding in a shroud of dogmatic fantasy.

    July 22, 2012 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  4. Tim

    For the record, I believe in the right to bear arms AND I believe in a reasonable amount of gun control... That being said...

    Adding MORE laws controlling the purchasing and ownership of guns has little to no chance of preventing the criminally insane from walking into a public place and shooting people... James Holmes legally purchased the weapons and ammo he used. The government could add more laws to the books, and people like Holmes can still legally purchase weapons and ammo, and go on killing sprees.... At this point, I don't think the answer to stopping things such as this recent shooting is more laws. Rather, we should put more effort in identifying the cause of said events...

    July 22, 2012 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  5. Dave

    If the person who killed all those people in Colorado had run over them with a truck would the politicians and liberals be trying to ban vehicles? The answer is no because that is something that would not fit their life style. You can't regulate crazy. If you outlaw guns the only ones who will give them up are a few of the ones who deserve to have them.

    July 22, 2012 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  6. Tim

    (Sorry, I forgot to add a significant point.) One thing that tends to get overlooked in nearly EVERY discussion on gun control that I have ever heard is the 'point' or 'reason' citizens of the united states have the right to bear arms. Many people, for some reason, like to believe that the founding fathers believed citizens needed muskets to 'hunt for food.' Some believe the right to bear arms was for the purpose of 'self defense.' Both of these are, quite simply, wrong... It is STATED IN THE BILL OF RIGHTS itself; "FOR THE PURPOSE OF CREATING A MILITIA."..... Now, whether or not you agree with the founding fathers, you cannot fall back on arguments such as, "gun ownership was only for hunting or self defense" because it wasn't... The founding fathers intended for citizens to own military weapons for the purpose of creating an emergence military when necessary... You can debate whether or not they were right to do so, and you can debate whether or not that is still a necessity, but you cannot change the intent of the founding fathers; it's stated in the bill of rights.

    July 22, 2012 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  7. ge

    why debate now the nuts already got there guns

    July 22, 2012 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  8. vic , nashville ,tn

    Within 90 Seconds police were there at movie theater great job, there is booby trapped to kill police officer in the apartment.
    One city first responders are working for minimum wage $7.25
    Police are doing their job with one goal protect people
    GOP please do your job to protect people

    July 22, 2012 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  9. Namejohn

    McCain, you can't ride the fence on this one. Another wordsmith politician.Gun rights voters put you in,we will remove you just as easily. Never trusted you. You can't guarantee safe borders so you think taking the means for Americans to defend themselves is the answer. I will live free and die staying that way! Pick which side to be on. I'VE ALREADY CHOSEN. Hero status is only relative to who is writing the article. That horse has gone lame.

    July 22, 2012 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  10. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    People who drive are required to meet certain criteria, why not the same for guns? The NRA once stood for gun education and gun safety, but now they are more about the size of the clips on your automatic rifles.

    July 22, 2012 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  11. GI Joe

    Too bad Reagan shut down mental institutions. He just turned them loose on the streets, and it looks like they're breeding and passing the mental illnesses on. Didn't his astrologist see this coming?

    July 22, 2012 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  12. GI Joe

    Some nutjob on another post said "people shouldn't be out that late – don't they have jobs"? imagine one person trying to set schedules for everyone in the country - even the military - ha ha ha ha ha ha ha

    July 22, 2012 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  13. Sam

    Gun control laws would not have kept James Holmes from committing his senseless crime, but it would be a good start. The fewer guns available to people, the fewer people will have to die. Dave- when was the last time a truck driver killed 12 and injured 59 others. Oh, and killed people in Chardon, Ohio and Columbine, CO and at Virginia Tech, etc,? Of course, we all know that guns don't kill people, people kill people HOWEVER If none of these people had guns, their crimes would have been more difficult to commit. To the hunters out there- hunters in civilized nations like England belong to gun clubs and their guns are locked up at the clubs. Imagine that?

    July 22, 2012 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  14. Danny L. Ables

    Mexico has gun control. I think that all these "representatives" opining for more control need to go there for a couple of years and see how it is working there. Democrat and republicans alike. McCain is a closet left wing liberal, proven time and time again. I have a gun safe full of semi-automatic assault weapons, I'm not sure why they haven't performed their rightful duty to slaughter and maim? And they have been there for the last 20 or so years. I don't get it!?????

    July 22, 2012 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  15. USJournalist

    Also, I agree with Tim- Our constitutional Bill of Rights set out by the forefathers of this nation stated that citizens have the right to bear arms for the purpose of creating a militia. Unless you're part of the Military, state national guard or a law enforcement agency (modern day militias), you don't need a gun- for all of our safety.

    July 22, 2012 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  16. livingston

    I think that before any Senator or Congressman/woman says one word about gun control they should be required to personally notify a family that their loved one was killed by one.

    July 22, 2012 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  17. Ted van Tol

    If you think you need a gun than let it be a small one, enaugh to defend yourself. Thats what the 2nd amandment is speaking about and not about heavy weapons. Ban all the automatic guns now! Times for that kind of weapons are over in a civilized country.

    July 22, 2012 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  18. T'sah From Virginia

    ►"But to think that somehow gun control, or increased gun control, is the answer, in my view, that has to be proved."
    Start with the SUDAFED law – Flag a person buying "too many guns" – too much "ammunition" is the opening move!
    Waiting periods – criminal background checks – mental history checks around the entire nation is a start
    Gun rights is a "man-made" law so “correcting” the “loopholes” that exist would be a move that is definitely SMART!!

    There’s a way – it’s just that the lawmakers that can make a difference are too afraid of the organizations that pay for their campaigns – and the Democrats, who also fears that BIG GUN are “weak in the knees” and “break at the seams” when they have the opportunity to make a difference. WAKE UP LAWMAKERS!!

    Obama 2012 – The Only Trusted Way Forward!!!

    July 22, 2012 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  19. Jeff

    In my opinion, everyone should carry a gun, and everyone should be given gun training lessons since they're born. In this case, when the crazy gunman took out the shotgun in the theater, even a 6-year-old who is allowed to have a gun, can be a hero and shoot the gunman down!

    July 22, 2012 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  20. Publius Novus

    The NRA and their GOP puppets will not permit any action on guns. Grover Norquist and his GOP puppets will not permit any action on taxes. The Koch brothers will not permit any action on campaign finance. Ben Franklin, at the close of the constitutional convention in Philadelphia, is quoted as stating "It is a republic if you can keep it." We had a republic. We couldn't keep it.

    July 22, 2012 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  21. DJ

    I find it interesting that when gun control is mentioned those who own guns bring up their 2nd amendment rights. They are not trying to take that right away from you, but common sense shoes that with so many innocent people dying on a daily bases, there is a need for some kind of regulations need on who can purchase assault weapons. Why is there a need for multiple firing clips on a rifle or guns, to hunt or protect your homes??

    July 22, 2012 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  22. Pete

    No matter how many gun laws are enacted its not going to stop the supposid mentally sane person from crossing the line,personal problems,financial problems, just someone mad at the world that's too chicken to end his own would rather end someone elses right.That's what happens most time doesn't it!!He's mad and he's making a statement and innocent victims paid with their lives for it,isn't that how it always goes..Columbine,Virginia Tech,political rally in Arizona,shooting in many malls,its an occurance that's part of life and its here to stay unless more strengent gun laws are passed,but now ya got a problem,the NRA and their supposid 2nd amendment rights and their monetary power over both parties being evident with little negetivity from either party on Capitol Hill,even after this shooting in Colorado recently with 12 lives lost and countless injured..NRA has to help reign in laws if people want these rights to survive,in Canada they went door to door collecting weapons,ya don't want that and you don't hear about anything like it there in Canada about shootings,do ya!!So we have to change as a nation if we want to continue with these mostly outdated amendments don't we,ya can't have your cake and eat it too,right and I'm a gun owner,hunter with a concealed weapons permit too,so I'm effected also,OK!!

    July 22, 2012 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  23. Larry L


    If the person who killed all those people in Colorado had run over them with a truck would the politicians and liberals be trying to ban vehicles?
    It's this sort of flawed logic that makes debate over guns nearly impossible. The man had a 100 round magazine. Does the 2nd Amendment say that's a good idea? Why not a rocket launcher? Bill Gates has the money to own an ICBM with nukes... should that be legal? Does the 2nd Amendment give us the right to overthrow the federal government if we consider it "oppressive"? Who makes that call? Gun ownership is a right now that the Court disregarded the actual words of the 2nd Amendment. Got it. But should we control the capability to commit mass murder?

    July 22, 2012 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  24. Name

    Gun control is bs if someone is gonna go out and kill people he or she will, no matter how many laws there is period.if you take my guns away then we will end up like Mexico were only the criminals and bad people have them.

    July 22, 2012 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  25. ClemVinson

    If you really want to empower people, put guns in everyone's hands. When you turn your ability to defend yourself over to a third party, you will inevitably be taken advantage of by that third party. Want to see a real decrease in mass shootings, police brutality, sexual assault, robbery, home invasion, and many other crimes stemming from weak minds wielding lethal force? Then put a handgun in the possession of every adult in this country.

    Taking your power back with whining and dependance on outside authority doesn't work. Al Capone said it best... "you get farther with a gun and a smile than you do with a smile".

    July 22, 2012 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
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