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. G Foster

    The will be no new sensible gun regs no matter how many people are shot dead in our streets. The NRA pushes the insane threat that all Americans seem to fall for, and that is that the government is lined up outside our front doors waiting to invade each and every house, with the only thing stopping them being our guns. For some completely STUPID reason Americans believe it.

    July 22, 2012 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  2. Larry L

    @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.
    Interesting problem. I'd be interested to see the statistical relationship between "sensational" gun violence and the mental health profession. Not only do many of the "shooters" have a history of mental illness, a good number of them are credentialed in the mental health field! I have no vision of how we'd educate that population or evaluate them to restrict their access to weapons. Just consider the tens of thousands of PTSD casualties we're now treating as result of the wars. I still only see control of the weapon's capability as a legal and pragmatic solution. The 2nd Amendment does not specify the type of weapons Americans might own. It also doesn't grant Americans the right to bear arms for the purpose of overthrowing the federal government – as many N.R.A. types (and the Texas Governor) often suggest.

    July 22, 2012 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  3. rla

    Show me where regultions have worked and where these kinnd of laws have led to populations being subjicated and you will have your answer

    July 22, 2012 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  4. Thomas

    God gave us the right to have more then one AR 15 in very car !

    July 22, 2012 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  5. Thomas

    Why can't I take my 40mm to school dad ?

    July 22, 2012 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  6. J

    When the 2nd amendment gets interpreted as "survival of the fittest", things can get ugly. I don't know how those who believe in controlling people rather than controlling gun access expect to control hundreds of millions of people's individual thinking who have easy access to guns. By getting the gun license? Just having a driver's license doesn't make you a good driver!

    July 22, 2012 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  7. Anthony

    9/11 This is why we should get rid of airplanes.
    Car crash kills family on weekend. This is why we should get rid of cars.
    Shark kills surfer. This is why we should get rid of surf boardes.
    Now do you see how ignorant you sound about gun conrtol?

    July 22, 2012 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  8. Peace

    People should understand why laws are made. The answer is: To make sure that we all live in a way accepted by majority. I don't think this kind of shooting is accepted by anyone. Once we know there is some shortfalls in any law, tougher changes are necessary. It is time to make gun control even tougher before things turn to worse.

    July 22, 2012 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  9. Dnick47

    @ Vernon I have never recalled that any politician or reasonable citizen called for taking your guns away. What I do hear is making weapons ownership a responsibility as any real citizen would adhere to. Getting firearms regerested is NOT TAKING THEM AWAY from any body anymore then regestering your carmeans the State plans to take it away. And, Mr. Vernon and others, they (the State) cannot take away anything except through due process unless its part of the evidence in a criminal investigation. Finally, if you and others are so paroniod as to believe your weapons are going to be seizzed, then you are part of that group of nut cases which shouldn't be entrusted with weapons in the first place cause you may go off someday in a paranoid frenzy.

    July 22, 2012 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  10. B.

    I respect Bloomberg and what he said which most other politicians haven”t the guts to even talk about!

    This country will continue to have mass murder because the NRA is in control and no-one else will touch them because it is politically dangerous. The NRA will continue to scare Americans into believing We All need guns to have a safe country which is pure BS.

    Just take a look at other developed countries that do not allow this to happen and do just fine without arming their citizens to the teeth. There will always be mentally sick people, but -easy access- to weapons is the cause of this and the NRA is complicit in controlling that!

    July 22, 2012 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  11. sensible

    With the pull out of Afghanistan and Iraq, why don't we hire all those 100k per year private contractors to guard all public places with their high-powered automatic weapons so that we can all feel safe? Yes, I am being sarcastic. Jeff, I don't think citizens of the United States are ready to live in a country where we are arming everyone from 90 year old Agatha to 6 year old Jane. DJ, I believe most Americans will agree with you on this point, most people are outraged with what is going on with these random mass shootings. I grew up in the 60's and 70's and the thought of someone being able to go into a store and purchasing these high-powered weapons was unheard of. How on earth did we get to this point in time????? Can the NRA explain the need for anyone to own these weapons to maintain life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness? Please explain that to the families who have lost loved ones in these mass murders.

    July 22, 2012 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  12. Larry L


    9/11 This is why we should get rid of airplanes.
    Car crash kills family on weekend. This is why we should get rid of cars.
    Shark kills surfer. This is why we should get rid of surf boardes.
    Now do you see how ignorant you sound about gun conrtol?
    We changed laws in response to 9/11. We changed laws to make cars safer. We remove surfers from the water when a shark is sighted. The 2nd Amendment gives you the right to own weapons per ruling from the Court. It does not specify what capabilities those weapons might offer. It does not specify you are granted the unlimited right to weapons designed to create mss casualties. Our laws restrict ownership to adults, without significant mental disorders, who aren't felons or fugatives from justice. This is also not specified in the 2nd Amendment.

    Save your insults about ignorance and "liberals". I do much of my own gunsmithing, reload, hunt, and own a large gun collection. I'm a veteren of over thirty years in the Army. I simply understand the need for common sense laws and reject the radical views of the N.R.A.

    July 22, 2012 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  13. Dave Harris

    According to Republicans, Obama has taken everybody's guns away. This was so he could impose communism on us. Didn't you notice?

    July 22, 2012 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  14. Jeff


    No, I'm too scared right now. I have to let my 4-year-old take my semi-automatic to the kindergarten tomorrow, because I don't know when his pal will take out a rifle in class.

    You're not sensing my sarcasm, buddy 😉

    July 22, 2012 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  15. Dnick47

    At the time the Bill of Rights was enacted people had one shot muskets or one shot pistols and the Founders would have never in their wildest dreams ever thought that automatic weapons and semi-automatic weapons with large capacity magazines were possible. Had they know, I do not think the 2nd Admendent would be worded as it is but would have been more tersely worded implying that they meant aprotection for the Commonweal through a qusi military instution. I do not think that one of them (the Founders) would have enacted an adment where legitimate constables, sheriff's deputies and other law enforcement let alone the general citizeneery were placed at undue risk by fast firing weapons of great firepower – they, as we, would be abhorred at what happened last Friday. Finally, it is completely Constitutional to plot and plan the over throw of the present government, but not through violent means the Constitution give precise rules for its own disenfranchisement.

    July 22, 2012 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  16. Jeff

    Guns don't kill people people kill people. So quit sayin stricter laws need to be put in place!!!

    July 22, 2012 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  17. NYPumaGirl

    To make the argument about the Second Amendment is a dog-and-pony show intended to distract Americans from the real solution: just bring back the Mental Health Systems Act that Reagan rescinded August 13, 1981. Reopen the institutions. Send the white van. Put loner men who fit the mass murderer profile there. Do not let them out. End of problem.

    July 22, 2012 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  18. Larry L


    Talk all you want, but you're NOT TAKING AWAY FROM 2ND AMENDMENT RIGHTS. GOT IT?
    The Court ruling gave validation to your "right to bear arms". They ignored the rest of that sentence but that's our right-wing Supreme Court and we'll just need to accept that fact – like "corporations being people". However, nothing in the 2nd Amendment gives specifics about limitations on weapons – or even describes the meaning of the word "arms". It also does not specify the right to own weapons for the purpose of overthrowing the federal government. Those "rights" have been assumed by the radical right-wing and repeated by politicians looking for votes. No diverse population can be trusted to own and use weapons with too much capability to produce mass casualties. We've proven this fact repeatedly. Since we really can't control "crazy" and since guns are a right – that only leaves control of the capability of the weapons distributed throughout the population. You are not given the right to commit mass murder by the 2nd Amendment.

    July 22, 2012 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  19. drew

    Murder is already illegal, as is the possession (in most cases) of explosives. Notably, this did not stop a psychotic young man who dyed his hair red and believed he was "the Joker."
    It would make almost as much sense to ban "Batman." Perhaps then the criminally insane wouldn't attack movie theaters.
    In real life, there is no Batman, nor can the police protect us from armed criminals, rapists, murderers, or the violent. And perhaps if a responsible gun owner was in the audience, the lives the police (and all if our enforcement and first responder apparati, from social workers to probation officers) FAILED to save wouldn't have been lost.
    When seconds count and help is minutes away, one must be allowed to protect oneself. And a government that won't trust its citizenry with guns is not a government to be trusted.
    I rely on myself, for my livelihood, for my personal protection, and for my happiness, and I personally won't live under a government that says it has to be otherwise.

    July 22, 2012 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  20. NVa Native

    How many lives will it take before the American people make the effort to educate themselves and then speak out against the minority of our population's shameless lust for guns and the destruction it inflicts on families and communities.
    It is disgusting how much control the for-profit gun industry and their profitable propaganda ministry (NRA) have over a majority of our politicians.

    July 22, 2012 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  21. Tony in Maine

    Gun control does not mean confiscation to most people. it does mean limits on what can be bought, sold or possessed by private gun enthusiasts. Those who claim the 2nd Amendment forbids any restrictions forget that there are already some common sense rules. I cannot go out and buy a fully automatic weapon, I cannot own a heat seeking missile, I cannot have a working modern rifled artillary piece on my front lawn. These rules may keep me from fully exercising my 2nd Amendment rights, but they are for the good of society.

    FWIW – the entire 2nd Amendment refers to a well regulated militia. A bunch of people running around with AK-47's or concealed Glocks is not a well regulated militia. It is a bunch of people running around pretending to be Dirty Harry or John Wayne. The Natiuonal Guard is the tresent well regulated militia and unlike the militia in the day of the Founders, the NG issues weapons, the soldiers aren't expected to provide their own. In that sense, the 2nd Amendment is an anachronism and needs to be repealed.

    July 22, 2012 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  22. Grafyter

    This tragedy is not the result of guns any more than a drunk driver killing a family on the road is the result of cars. This young man was sick, had been sick for some time. Even his extended family said so. Why wasn't he being helped? Why wasn't he being monitored? Let's see, cuts to mental health programs throughout the U.S. to "reduce the size of government", inability of families to afford mental health care because they can't afford insurance or get a living wage because of job outsourcing.

    Stop giving inanimate objects power. A fork is just a fork until someone picks it up and stabs it in an eye. You wouldn't call for fork control....or would you?

    July 22, 2012 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  23. AgeofInsanity

    More restrictive gun laws will hurt the economy. A reduction in lives lost will impact several lines of business starting with gun manufactures, gun shops, florists, funeral homes, caskets makers, cemeteries, transportation, newspapers, condolence cards, etc. Do you see where this is going? There are two many vested interests which would be effected. Better to have a few people massacred from time to time than upset the economy. Just ask any Republican!

    July 22, 2012 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  24. gozar

    Billionaire Mayor Mike Bloomberg is a tyical Liberal Elite. No guns for the common man yet he walks around with an armed bodyguard. Bloombergs methods are in line with those of Nazi germany. In NYC Bloomberg's police department has stopped and frisked over 600,000 innocent people, mostly young latinos and african americans all in the name of his crusade against guns. Yet he would never try this with his bro's on the Upper West Side or in Crown Heights. Give me a break. If you don't believe gun control is the first step to having all your rights taken away, come too NYC and check things out.

    July 22, 2012 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  25. Steve

    God...we need Bloomberg as president. Every year we have at least once senseless slaughter because of proliferation of guns without discrimination. Our death rate by firearms is 8 TIMES the average of all other western economies. We have more guns per capita than any other nation (88.8) with the next closest about 55 per capita. When you have 88.8 guns per 100 citizens the solution to everthing becomes guns.

    July 22, 2012 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
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