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. Steve

    Those of you who point to the "Right to Bear arms.." excerpt from the Constitution I offer this. We have made major changes to the Constitution 27 times. If we hadn't, many of you (blacks, women, gays, etc) would not be permitted to vote, own property, attend schools, marry, join the millitary, etc. I cannot think of an amendment already in place that's a whole lot more important than stopping the slaughter of innocents so the NRA can make a buck.

    July 22, 2012 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  2. vic , nashville ,tn

    @ Dave
    You don’t get, to drive a truck the person need a driver licenses we check the person mentality, to buy gun we don’t do that
    Many liberals and independents own the gun they are not advocating banning the gun
    They want gun owners to go through some test

    July 22, 2012 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  3. GonzoinHouston

    To the right-wingers who love to decry Obama as the most anti-gun president in history I would like to point out that even in the wake of this attack, he has not proposed any further gun control laws. In his term he has not proposed any new gun-control laws. The only law that he signed expanded the rights of holders of carry permits. Where's the evidence for your claims, other than "Rush said so"?

    July 22, 2012 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  4. For the Second Amendment

    If the Politicians want to talk Gun Control then let's go to the root cause of Violence...Hollywood and certain segments of the Music Industry and TV which teahes violence to those who try to act out their fantasies as Holmes did in Colorado. and please don't tell me "yea /ut that goes against our right of Freedom of Speech" so is banning guns or banning people who pollute minds the more important thing to do?

    July 22, 2012 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  5. anthony78

    Ban Assualt rifles al together. The aren't for hunting, and I don't know exactly what kind of threat is that large to actually need a weapon of that capacity. The problem is in the name.. ASSAULT. Its a proactive weapon, used for aggression, not protection. If some guy breaks in your home, you mean to tell me you need an AR15 to put him down? With a 100 round drum? I don't know where you live, but a Glock is all i would need to suppress any immediate threat. You people are sick.
    I hope they do outlaw assault rifles, beyond the military and police usage. Im not about to start a revolution or uprising against the government here in America. And If I did.. it wouldn't be through violence. Ghandi, MLK, etc all used peaceful actions to create some of the biggest revolutionary actions ever. But hey.. cling to your weapon. If it makes you feel safer to have 20 assault rifles locked in a safe then so be it. But when you strap it over your shoulder and show up at your NRA or Tea rallies, it won't make me feel safe, and I have a right to safety as well. Amurcans... and their guns...

    July 22, 2012 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  6. For the Second Amendment

    One final item.....what nation would dare invade our country en masse...with all the millions of guns in the hands of our citizens? Better consider that as well because many of our illustrius "Leaders" are trying to by pass our constitution tp go through the UN....

    July 22, 2012 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  7. when your nightmares end WILLARD begins

    once again people will start calling for more gun control. Not that people can't own guns mind you but trying to keep the guns out of the hands of people like the one that got one Friday. And we will hear request that AK rifles are made only for killing people, not hunting sport and should be banned. Then we will hear people say stuff like if the guy ran over people in a truck then would you ban trucks. Then the NRA will come out and make similar cases, the gun lobby will scare the Republicans and Blue Dog Democrats that support them and nothing will change until some nut does this again and the circle will continue. And the right wing will soup up their base scaring them into thinking Obama is going to take everybody's guns away. Such nonsense because he CAN'T take everybody's guns away. Somehow I have seen this story before and probably will see it once again, and again, and again.......

    July 22, 2012 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  8. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    Gun control is a useless argument because nothing is going to be done about it, changing the criminal justice system is the only answer.

    July 22, 2012 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  9. CBR

    People are asking for gun controls. They are not asking for a ban on all guns. Just why would someone need AR15 rifle.

    The GOP keeps reminding us about President Reagan's terms. It is hard to forget the attempted assassination and the toll it took. One would think that the GOP would wish to have reasonable controls and some regulations. Does the NRA own this issue? No, we are Americans need to say enough, No one pac should have this much control over members of Congress.

    July 22, 2012 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  10. MM

    I usually don't post a lot, but I can't stay silent on this one. OK, fine, people kill people. But if he hadn't had an ASSAULT RIFLE, which is defined as a "light machine gun," then he wouldn't have been able to shoot 71 people. 71!!!!!!!!!!!!! If he had just had a normal single-shot rifle, or even if he used all four of his guns sequentially, someone in that theater could have stopped him. Who are we kidding when we say that we want to respect gun-owners' rights? What about the rights of those 71 people and their families? And what kind of deer are you people hunting that you need an assault rifle?

    July 22, 2012 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  11. Self Defender

    If you could go back in time and hand a loaded gun to one of those 12 victims before they got shot, would you?

    July 22, 2012 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  12. walkman321

    If everyone was carrying when that happened he would of got maybe one shot off before 30 people were shooting him . If everyone carried stupid people would do stupid things....

    July 22, 2012 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  13. yertster

    Criminals prefer unarmed Victims, Dictators prefer unarmed citizens.

    July 22, 2012 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  14. SciGuy

    The 2nd amendment is clear. And it has nothing to do with hunting. You who want to increase gun control, if you are more than just talkers, will seek to amend the Consti.tution to undo number two.

    July 22, 2012 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  15. Typical Bloomberg

    In Bloomberg's authoritarian New York City, unhealthy food is banned but fat people are everywhere; petty theft gets prison time while Wall Street steals hundreds of billions and gets bonuses for it; drugs are illegal but easily bought in every borough; and guns are "controlled" but gun crime runs rampant.

    He's hardly one to lecture anybody on anything (other than what NOT to do).

    July 22, 2012 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  16. Namenone

    Leave gun control as is the problem is people not gun control. If you take this guy and give him the fireing squad. Then people will think twice before comiting a crime.

    July 22, 2012 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  17. M.K.

    At least make gun owners carry a permit. Even hair dressers and manicurists must have a license. Anyone that is scared to have a permit doesn't have any business with a gun of any style or caliber. When a person can walk into a crowed theater and spray the occupants with lethal machine gun fire it is time to get real and stop letting the NRA dictate rules to the American public. This might fly in the face of the Republicans who take their orders from Norquist and the NRA but who cares? It is time to vote out of office all supporters of the NRA.

    July 22, 2012 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  18. Marie MD

    The purchase of assault rifles should be banned immediately! There is absolutely no reason to buy these killing machines (and don't tell me they are for hunting if you really want to take the carcass of the animal home with you and eat because it destroys more than just kills).
    Did this monster in CO buy 6,000 rounds of ammunition at the same time from the same death dealer? If he did so, the person, while not against the law to sell ammunition, should be indicted on being stupid and careless.
    Why on Earth would anyone need that much ammunition except for what he used it for?

    July 22, 2012 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  19. Len

    We need to answer this questiion: Why do we need automatic weapons to be legal? We need to reinstate the "Automatic Weapon Ban" people such as Holmes would not have access to purchase them legally. ALL weapons, bullets, and magazines he purhased legally.
    In an Democracy, the rights of others extend only as far as when my rights and freedoms are inhibited. Due to America's freedom to purchase any gun or large capacity clip or drum under the auspices of the second amendment, my rights and freedoms to live a normal life as an American has been dramatically impacted. I now must consider my personal safety when attending a movie or trying to meet my Congressman on a Saturday morning in front of a grocery store.Americans should not have their rights and freedoms curtailed due to ever increasing security concerns because some Americans demand the right to purchase semi-automatic weapons, as well as large amounts of ammunition and tear-gas canisaters online!

    July 22, 2012 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  20. Concerned

    First, we need everyone to be on some sort of healthcare plan so they can afford to see doctors regularly. This country is full of mentally ill people who need to be on some sort of medication but can't afford to see a doctor or pay for the prescriptions. Once people are taken care of, then we might see a better country. Until then, these shootings and mass murders will continue – with or without stricter gun laws.

    July 22, 2012 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  21. Truth Today

    We need several pieces of ID to vote and only one piece of ID to purchase a gun or semi-automatic. And Bill O'Reilly says this has nothing to do with gun control. I guess cigarette cancer has nothing to do with cigarettes, alcohol has nothing to do with alcoholism, and overdosing has nothing to do with drugs. Yet, we regulte this more aggressively than gun ownership. Anyone who agrees with the such of O'Reilly are blind and cannot see afar off by choice. I am increasingly disturbed by the right's focus on controlling a women's right to abortion and the aforementioned while they are eerily silent or in denial about gun rights. Their honor of the victims while appreciated and respected falls short of what the victims really deserve–A safer country that does not place the rights to own a gun above the life, happiness, and safety of others. We need to vote in a group of leaders that will make gun control a priority and abolish the NRA.

    July 22, 2012 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  22. hillbilleter

    The laws covering ownership of Assault Weapons, which are clearly made for killing people, need to be reinstated. They were allowed to expired about 8 years ago and have never been brought back to the forefront of the political radar. If this person had no been able to legally acquire a weapon made for killing people, he may not have gone through with acquiring one. If he had been made to go through the black market to buy his weapon and ammunition, it may have made it too inconvenient for him to follow through with his plan. That being said, he is obviously insane and had focused on this plan for many months, and may have been intent enough to have gone through the black market to acquire the articles he desired. If someone is crazy enough to break the law to kill multiple people, I don't think he would quibble about a few weapons laws. It might have taken him longer to acquire the articles, but he was set on his course and probably unshakeable. He worked in neuroscience, and was indubitably tested over and over again in departmental testing exercises. Has anyone found the results of any of his mental evaluations?

    July 22, 2012 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  23. ruth

    Neither politician will discuss this in a preidential year...each side wants the gun owners vote!

    July 22, 2012 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  24. Shannon

    Do you ever notice how people on the right always become hysterical about their guns,and go into a panic about the possibility of sane gun laws, but they never have a word of sympathy for the victims of gun violence. There really is something wrong with you people. You also go on and on about the President and how he has taken gun rights away from you, name one law he has enacted that has hindered your ability to get a gun. Just one!

    July 22, 2012 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  25. Michael

    Plain and simple: as long a there are guns easily available to just about everyone, crimes like this will continue to be committed. As long as there as weapons designed for mass assault, the victims affected by such crimes will be higher. If all a person has to kill another person is a knife, s/he will use that. The sad reality is that some people will take the lives of innocents, and some will seek weapons to inflict harm to the masses. Therefore, it would behoove us all to do away with such weapons, or make them very, very difficult to obtain.

    July 22, 2012 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
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