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. Mark

    If how this guy got the stuff is true the NRA hasn't a leg to stand on
    with their current position. Make some adjustments.

    July 23, 2012 08:47 am at 8:47 am |
  2. reason

    Without federal laws that control the sale of machine guns, then the killer could have bought a m-60 machine gun at Gander Mountain, and walked into a theater with a gun that fired 600 rounds a minute, not 60 rounds a minute. We need reason. The gun control ban on machine guns seems to work. The peple who say that there should be no gun control laws seem to have lost their reason. Should it have been legal and easy for the killer to have purchased a m-60 machine gun, or a thompson sub-machine gun? The machine gun ban is proof that gun control can work. As bad as it was in that theater, imagine how much worse it would have been if the killer had purchased a machine gun. I know that there are people who say that a machine gun ban violates the 2nd Amendment, but no right is absolute.

    July 23, 2012 08:54 am at 8:54 am |
  3. canuck

    Most politicians are elected on campaign promises. Those electing them insanely believe that they have the power to fulfill those promises. What people fail to understand is that it is not up to those elected politicians to change things; it is up to YOU and YOU alone. So rather than putting your trust in the lieing politicians, who these days are only in for their bellies, trust yourselves for a change. Stop listening to these nuts; collectively build your own communities; just remember, do not let the lieing creeps take credit for your success.

    July 23, 2012 08:55 am at 8:55 am |
  4. Rudy NYC

    Dr. Michael S. Brown wrote on page 4:

    The term "assault weapon" was coined roughly two decades ago by Josh Sugarman, the brilliant head propagandist for the anti-gun lobby. His stated goal was to confuse people about the difference between fully automatic weapons and semi-autos. This strategy worked well and is still working today. People who don't know much about guns are easy to fool. ......
    What is wrong with calling a spade a spade? People know and understand more than you realize, doc. Firearms are designed with various uses in mind. Want to hunt deer, then use bow and arrow. Want to hunt rabbits, then use a rifle or a pistol. Want to hunt bears, then use a bigger rifle or a semi-automatic rifle. Want to hunt birds, then use a shotgun. Want to hunt people, then use an automatic weapon designed for war.

    We have a national defense force. We have state national guard. We have state and local police forces. We have "militias" run by The People. The law could have been written to ban any sort of militia, but it wasn't. So, why do ordinary citizens need to own, or should own, weapons of war? Should people have the right to own a tank?

    July 23, 2012 08:55 am at 8:55 am |
  5. MATTY13

    I own six guns. Three rifles and three shotguns. I don't hunt, I don't go target shooting, and I don't need to protect myself with them. I own them because I can. I don't have to have a reason. There are over 300 million guns in the U.S. owned by 65 million people. People don't think it is right to profile middleastern looking men at airports because they commit 99 percent of the terrorist acts, but they do think it's ok to profile gun owners because of incidents like this.

    July 23, 2012 08:57 am at 8:57 am |
  6. Jack

    Hey cowboys. Even Dodge City and many "wild west" towns had strict gun control. In many of these towns you had to hand in your gun to the sheriff when you entered town. My solution? We should allow gun ownership but only to members of gun clubs and all guns/rifles must be locked up in the clubs. Let the clubs regulate the guns (sign in/sign out.) If a member of the club commits a crime with a gun the club loses its license. The gov't grants licenses to clubs and the club strictly regulates the guns and their usage. No club membership, no gun ownership. The 2nd Amendment says we have the right to bear arms but says nothing about there not being regulations.

    July 23, 2012 08:58 am at 8:58 am |
  7. John Wayne

    So what exactly makes an AR-15 an assault weapon and a glock not? FYI AR does not stand for assault riffle, so that's not the answer. How unbelievably pathetic that Dianne Feinstein wrote the original assault weapons ban and she actually thinks they are for close quarters combat.

    HOW MANY OF YOU ARE ACTUALLY SO STUPID TO THINK THAT AN ASSAULT WEAPONS BAN WILL DO A SINGLE THING TO STOP MASS SHOOTINGS. Please come forward and precisely articulate why the same thing would not be accomplished with the guns that would remain after such a ban. It actually sounds like Obama might understand this if he isn't just hiding his intentions until post election.

    The AR-15 is not a high caliber rifle. Shooting unarmed civilians is pretty easy with any gun and guess what? You can't get rid of every gun when several hundred million exist in the country alone. Pretending something doesn't exist won't make you safer.

    Also, Kevin, wonder why you chose to lead with Bloomberg vs the Gov of Colorodo where this actually happened?

    July 23, 2012 09:01 am at 9:01 am |
  8. ronvan

    2nd AMENDMENT! OUR RIGHTS: 1. It is NOT the 2nd Amendment that is the problem. IT IS those that use it, abuse it, and twist it, to make $$$. 2. The 2nd Amendment says "our right to bear arms". I would truly be interested to see what our "forefathers" would say if they saw the kind of arms/weapons are availabe to people today? Modify/Add more to it? 3. I totally agree with those saying, BAN these types of weapons, and that they are NOT designed for hunting. For me, that is just a flimsy excuse to own one. And what sport is it to go hunting with the capability of firing 20-40-60 rounds downrange if you miss your first shot? 4. OUR RIGHTS: We have become SO enamoured with yelling about our rights that, for me, it has become dangerous! There are so many "do gooder", rights groups out there that it would take 4 or more pages to list them! 5. GUN CONTROL: Hasn't work, doesn't work! We need to take a HARD LOOK, be realistic, and make changes to improve it. Is there a computer program that would "ALERT", "RAISE RED FLAGS" for a person buying hughe amounts of weapons and ammo? Somehow it would have to include the internet! SADLY, this unspeakable, ungodly, tragedy shows that there is NOT a simple answer. This "thing", got all of this stuff, LEGALLY! It entered the theater like anyone else! One thing I would do is to take those weapons, deemed Assault rifles, or capable of fully auto. fire, and have the barrels leaded! In the case of an AR15, M16, it is SO easy to make them fully auto. fire ready! I DO, support owning a weapon, and CCW. BUT it is the type of weapon that I have problems with!

    July 23, 2012 09:01 am at 9:01 am |
  9. mamadamama

    Bloomberg is an officious politician all too willing to take freedoms from others while not willing to give up those very same freedoms. So eager to restrict guns, how about we start with your bodyguards, Bloomberg? I live in the woods – I need protection and I doubt the police will be able to get to my house in the hour's drive it takes before someone tries to kill me. Bloomberg is nothing but a dictator wannabe. I cannot believe NYC elected him yet again. Reason enough for me to NEVER visit that cesspool of a city.

    July 23, 2012 09:05 am at 9:05 am |
  10. Joe from CT, not Lieberman

    Folks, please remember, all these weapons and other equipment were purchased legally. Despite arguments otherwise, when the Framers added what became the 2nd Amendment, I don't think they ever thought technology would lead to the type of firepower available to the average citizen today.
    That being said, I propose that we interpret the 2nd Amendment in a way exactly as the framers proposed, to wit – every person is entitled to keep and bear a single-shot, muzzle-loading rifle and pistol. Given how Justice Scalia believes that the Court should follow the Constitution as the Framers understood things, he should have no argument against this proposal.

    July 23, 2012 09:05 am at 9:05 am |
  11. Steve Lyons

    Bloomberg is a TRAITOR to the US Constitution by calling for measures to restrict and undermine the intent of the Second Amendment.

    July 23, 2012 09:07 am at 9:07 am |

    Maybe we ought to ask the fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, best friends, and relatives of the kids who never made it out of a friggin' MOVIE THEATRE alive, if assault rifles still belong in civilian hands.

    July 23, 2012 09:19 am at 9:19 am |
  13. Larry

    The fairest way to solve this problems is to make the carrying of concealed weapons mandatory in all red states, and make murder a misdemeanor. By attrition, there will soon be no need for gun control laws.

    July 23, 2012 09:20 am at 9:20 am |
  14. Name

    Mr bloomberg ,has armed gaurds,but the rest of us are not as important as him to be protected.typical elite ,disarm your gaurds,then the rest of us will ,

    July 23, 2012 09:21 am at 9:21 am |
  15. fernace

    Here's another problem ripe for throwing more meaningless laws at! I'm glad some1 mentioned the Norwegian Massacre because it's a perfect example of what a person w/an evil agenda is willing to go through to accomplish their goal! There is no 2nd amendment in Norway & no1 carries guns outside of hunting season! I don't know how we can make our laws stronger w/out taking guns out of lawabiding citizens hands! Perhaps there needs to be more oversight for assault weapons, or maybe a ban (hello, Assault weapon), but a person willing to shoot up a theater, killing innocent people is willing to go to any means, as I've already stated! I'm a pacifist & would never own a gun, but many families I know do, for home protection & they follow all the laws & safety precautions! It's interesting to note how many Repubs are suddenly calling for gun control & McCain!? Who wants us to go to war in Syria!? Hmmmm, go figure!!

    July 23, 2012 09:23 am at 9:23 am |
  16. ronvan

    ALL these comments about carrying concealed weapons. I, sadly, tend to agree. HOWEVER, you really wind up with a whole new set of problems. WHAT KIND of weapon to carry? Smaller caliber, or a cannon? WHAT KIND of ammo?
    WHAT KIND of training? Training should include, excellent weapon training, to INCLUDE, mental conditioning, moving target ranges, target aquisition, decision making, etc.. EVEN if you do all of this you will never know, God forbid, how you are going to react in a real life or death situation. Have you seen the video of the 71yr. old when 2 robbers came in and when he took action was about 4 or 5 ft. away from one of them when he opened fire? He hit NOTHING!! For those talking about less deaths/injuries if movie goers had weapons. Maybe so, more than likely more "friendly fire" injuries! Do not forget that this "thing" was in FULL body armour, head to toe, wearing a mask, leaving a very small target! And this "thing" did not have to aim, just point and shoot!

    July 23, 2012 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
  17. B

    Anything Bloomberg says shouldn't even be given the time of day. He has an undemocratic agenda. Also, what TOWN MAYOR questions the president? That's a dangerous hubris.

    July 23, 2012 09:30 am at 9:30 am |
  18. Chumlee

    Good to see Bloomberg willing to stand up. Unfortunately, elected members of Congress and state offices DO NOT HAVE THE STONES TO STAND UP AGAINST THE NRA freaks – have you seen and heard the leader of the NRA?

    A total extremist. He must have commie dreams

    July 23, 2012 09:32 am at 9:32 am |
  19. mikrik13

    Anything to keep off the real topics of discussion. Jobs and the economy/debt.

    July 23, 2012 09:39 am at 9:39 am |
  20. v_mag

    Alert Michele Bachmann! There are a vast number of Congress persons who have ties to a terrorist organization, known as the NRA!

    July 23, 2012 09:39 am at 9:39 am |
  21. Ferris

    Bloomberg doesn't want citizens to have guns, but he allows his bodyguards to carry – and wasn't it just a few years ago that accusations came out that one of Bloomberg's own guards shot an unarmed citizen over a woman? Imagine what will happen if only Bloomberg's henchmen are allowed to have guns.

    July 23, 2012 09:40 am at 9:40 am |
  22. Amin jiwani

    Thanks to NRA and our lawmakers who are FOR SALE – buying legally assault weapons is as easy as buying alcohol and tobacco in United States. God bless America!

    July 23, 2012 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  23. Sanely Insane

    Even MORE gun control laws? The shooter purchased the equipment and weapons used at the theater legally (with the notable exception of the gas-devices). He had no prior record, no prior mental condition that warranted the limitation of weapons he was allowed to purchase, and was not an any federal watch list. In other words, this guy was the average law-abiding citizen. Oh, and the theater was a gun-free zone, meaning NO guns were allowed. It didn't matter if you were licensed or not. But he left to get his weapons, anyway. Those gun controls worked, huh?

    People will say the "sudden" purchase of weapons and large amounts of ammunition were a warning sign. That is simply not true. I am a gun owner, and when I plan to spend a day at the range, I typically buy several thousand rounds of ammunition in advance. It doesn't mean I'm going to shoot up a crowd. I also know of some survivalists that have stock-piled ammunition; that doesn't mean they are going to go ballistic on a crowd.

    Using this incident to call for more gun control is nothing more than a knee-jerk reaction by people that think the world is 'civilized' and doesn't need weapons. They point to countries where gun controls laws either outlaw guns entirely (doesn't Mexico do that? Doesn't seem to work very well) or have severe restrictions (like England, where they still have gun violence). The simple fact of the matter is people will find ways of killing other people, no matter what laws are enacted. Outlaw and destroy all guns, they will use explosives. Outlaw and destroy anything that can be mixed to make explosives, they will use poison. They will find a way. The only way to minimize an already small-chance occurring is to educate people that own guns. I wouldn't be against an annual gun safety and use course to own guns. In fact, some states require the class before you can buy guns, anyway.

    Oh and this last bit will probably cause an uproar. The fact that the gunman had a high-capacity magazine for his AR-15 is the reason only 12 people were killed, and not more. High-capacity mags are horribly unreliable, tending to jam the weapon. If he had used 30-round mags, the death toll would likely be much greater. So, ban the magazine that jammed and, possibly (because it isn't certain), let gunmen reload with reliable magazines (a 1 – 3 second process), or let it ride and (again) possibly save a few lives with it causes the weapon to malfunction?

    July 23, 2012 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
  24. Andrew

    Guns don't make us safer. Community does.

    July 23, 2012 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  25. The Jackdaw

    Once again, our country will reel in reactive paranoia as one lunatic causes everybody else to suffer. Politicians will push for showy, ego-stroking safety regulations until every sharp corner is sanded and the entire country is wrapped in bubble wrap and foam while our children wallow in a sea of potato chips and Adderall. Does anybody honestly think that if this guy had no guns he would have sat in his apartment and twitted his thumbs? Or do you think he would have come up with something else to do? Making things illegal is a very slippery slope and punishing the innocent masses for the actions of a handful of crazy people is immoral, unjust and unethical. We do not need gun control. We need crime control. We need to spend time with and give attention to the youth of our country, so that they do not one day feel they need to dress up as the Joker and kill dozens of people to get the attention they feel they deserve. We need to start being proactive instead of reactive. We need to get our priorities straight and stop quivering over the existence of inert objects like firearms and start making sure that our society is not so high strung, neglected and medicated that we forget that we are all humans who need support from one another instead of being convinced that we need to achieve the impossible because we have been pummeled with insurmountable social pressures, demands and stress until we crack. We need to stop willfully enabling the degeneration and systematic sissification of this country before we collapse from our own lack of will and cowardice. Reactions out of fear will never lead you to where you want to be. Fearing daddy’s shotgun is understandable but it is the wrong approach to this problem. Stop reacting out of fear, America. Start finding the root cause to these things. Quell your fear through understanding. Get off Facebook and IPads and start caring about one another face to face. Fulfill your emotional requirements the way you were intended to and stop looking for quick solutions to problems you refuse to understand. Learn about daddy’s shotgun so you are not afraid of it. Hiding from scary things will make you weak. It is time that we put the big boy pants back on, forget the collective pampers and start becoming the greatest country in the world once again. The alternative is to melt and crumble as the more willful consume us. I like my country. But paranoia will tear us apart. All while the Joker sits in prison refusing to cooperate.

    July 23, 2012 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12