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. dkl

    instead of blaming the guns... why not look at the glorified violence in these movies... look at the common thread in many of these mass killings... the joker was part of the rantings of the guy who shot Gabby and those folks in AZ... natural born killers was so enticing those kids went on a killining rampage... people see this glorified violence and take on that character to be somebody... Hollywood didnt blink after this shooting... they just keep on making money....

    July 22, 2012 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  2. Len

    In a Democracy, the rights and freedoms 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 ammunition 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 theatre or trying to meet with 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 canisters online!

    July 22, 2012 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  3. Gop

    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. I like to point out he is 100% correct. you can try and ban every type of gun but the point is if someone is willing to kill they will find a way. if not by a gun he could have used a bomb. and with just one or two bombs he could have killed a lot more then he did. if you notice every time one of these things happens it is in a place where guns are not allowed in. when you allow people to carry a gun the attacker then has to think his victims might have a gun and less chance of him picking that type of person or place out to do his deed. the fact is this type of person was the kind of person you would have never ever thought to do a thing like this. so the point is banning guns wll not stop it, but allowing people to own and protact themselves from people like this might cut down on this sort of thing happening again.

    July 22, 2012 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  4. cuzzinjim

    There is a reason we are allowed to have firearms. For those that want to restrict my right, how about you go ahead and move to a socialist country in Europe and tell me how that works out for you. It mostly seems to be the ruling elite that always call for more gun control (well them and the ignorant). Bloomberg has a 24/7 armed security detail. Oh, the hipocricy.

    The shooting is a tragedy, but what say ye liberals about him rigging his apartment with IED's. Illegal everywhere, but he did it. Drunk drivers killed more people last year than guns, but I don't hear a call to ban or further restrict Chevrolet's. For those not smart enough to do research, look and see how many lives guns saved last year in terms of self defense, etc.

    The ruling elite would love to see our 2nd amendment gutted, and incidents like this give them "so called reason". Wake up sheeples!! Someone that belongs in an insane asylum is not going to be stopped. The Fed building in Oklahoma city was blown up with fertilizer and diesel fuel. No calls to ban that, and look at the death toll. The twin towers were taken out with airplanes. No call to ban commercial flights either.

    There is a reason this country is going all to hell, and left wingers need look any further than the mirror. Entitlement, let the gov't do everything, and protect me every second mentality. Get a grip people.

    July 22, 2012 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  5. NameJimmy

    Guns dont kill people, people kill people.if guns are outlawed only outlaws will have guns.

    July 22, 2012 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  6. Dennis

    I believe the NRA has blood on their hands. I don't know how any of them can sleep at night knowing they advocate having assault weapons on the street for the sole purpose of enriching the weapons manufacturing business.

    July 22, 2012 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  7. Mark

    There are no laws that we can consider that would have prevented this tragedy ... only laws that MAY have made it more difficult to for this individual to obtain what he wanted.Guns laws don't do anything to keep criminals away from guns because ... being criminals they don't OBEY the law. The one thing that could have actually saved lives that evening in Colorado was an armed citizen in the audience who was able to draw his weapon and shoot back.

    July 22, 2012 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  8. Daniel Cocciardi

    No Mr. Bloomberg. It is not the "job of the president". It's up to the states. Do you want Colorado to dictate what kind of laws there are in New York?

    July 22, 2012 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  9. DC Johnny

    Liberals with their utopian arguments cannot escape the facts. For every anti-gun talking point you come up with, there is a very obvious counter-argument that can be made.

    For example: "But if we outlawed assault rifles, he wouldn't have been able to wound so many people!"

    Have you ever heard of the Middle East? Ask Israelis about the prevalence of horrific attacks despite there being an ample availability of assault rifles and machine guns. If someone wants to do something terrible, they will do it whether they have "legal" access to an assault rifle or whether they need to cook up a homemade explosive device.

    The fact that there are only a handful of these horrific events every decade just proves that they are isolated and very rare occurrences. But that doesn't stop the anti-American Left from running to their opportunistic podiums to deliver their opportunistic speeches that are nothing short of pushing us one step closer to an oppressive state.

    No, I do not "need" an assault rifle. I do not even own a pistol. But I do not want the government imposing new laws that will only be followed by the law abiding citizens, while the criminals get that much stronger. If my neighbor chooses to defend his home and family with a weapon, I'm fairly certain the founders would have died to protect that right of his.

    July 22, 2012 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  10. Anonymous

    This isn't a gun issue, it's a mental health issue. He could have used any number of ways to accomplish the same thing, bomb, or even a truck driven into a crowd...

    Please resist the temptation to try and politicize this.

    And know that the professonal advocacies on both sides are seeing this as a major opportunity for revenue enhancement, and will try for to roil the water as much as possible.

    July 22, 2012 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  11. David1958

    I was raised around guns. When I say guns, I mean 'sporting weapons' (Shotguns and Rifles) I was born in 1958. My Dad owned owned 1 pistol. A .22 cal revolver. When I was around 7 years old, my Dad would take me along on hunting trips here in Kentucky along with my older brothers. I bought my first shotgun when I was 15. A bolt action 20ga with a 3 round clip. I've owned various shotguns, rifles and pistols over the years. All were low capacity sporting guns, or handguns. I've never felt the need to own high capacity firearms, including military style assault rifles. Right now, I own no firearms.

    My opinion is that there is no legitimate reason for any American Citizen to own any type of military assault style weapon or handgun with a high capacity magazine.

    July 22, 2012 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  12. wrm

    An AR isn't a "light machine gun." Amazing how many people are commenting on the details of weapons when they know absolutely nothing about them beyond what's been (mis)represented in action films. If you want to discuss firearms then learn something about them first.

    July 22, 2012 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  13. exlonghorn

    Bloomberg, there's a big difference between LEADING your constituents, and REPRESENTING them. Just so we are all clear, you are a representative of the people, not their leader, master, king, lord, jefe, conquistador, emperor, or anything of that ilk. And MM, he did not have a "machine gun" or an "assault rifle". It was an AR-15, which is semi-automatic by definition.

    July 22, 2012 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  14. DC Johnny

    I absolutely love the quoting of "per capita gun violence" in America by the Liberals, as if blindly quoting numbers without any real context is a real responsible way to have a discussion.

    They won't tell you that the overwhelming majority of those gun deaths occurs in urban low-income areas, committed by the uneducated criminals against their own race.

    Do you honestly believe that is the kind of crime that can be stopped by broad anti-gun regulations? Do you believe that the gangs of urban LA or DC or Baltimore are going to adhere to those kinds of laws? Do you believe that they are currently getting their weaponry legally and registering with their local county offices?

    These are the kinds of questions the Liberals refuse to ponder, and deflect when asked. You want to take the guns away from the families protecting their own property, because of stats skewed by the criminals in the ghettos of America.

    July 22, 2012 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  15. DRTSAT

    Federal Background checks have failed. The Assault weapons ban that Sen. Feinstein mentioned, failed. Gun Control will fail. If people want to kill people they will aquire the means no matter what. No guns, then people will result to clubs, knives, shanks, etc....... to kill. @MM, an assault rifle is a military weapon capable of semi automatic and 3 round burst or automatic fire. The weapon used by the shooter was only semi automatic and therefore not an assault rifle. If we use the semi-automatic definition as an indicator of an assault rifle then there are hunting rifles and shotguns that need to be reviewed. In the end, our 2nd amendment rights will stand.

    July 22, 2012 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  16. harold lloyd

    Just to make it clear, he did not use an assault weapon.
    An assault weapon is capable of fully automatic operation.
    His was limited to semi-auto only.

    But this is still primarily a mental health issue.

    Don't let professional advocates ( on both sides ) make it seem otherwise just so they can ask for funds in this 'emergency'...

    July 22, 2012 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  17. envisionprecision

    You say gun control laws are going to make us safer? Tell me more about how criminals follow laws.....

    July 22, 2012 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  18. Randy, San Francisco

    Meaningful gun control discussion is only wishful thinking because of two overwhelming obstacles: politics and the NRA.

    July 22, 2012 05:54 pm at 5:54 pm |
  19. Td

    Gj Bloomberg. Time to put the gun nuts to rest.

    July 22, 2012 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  20. Critical Thinker

    The Second Amendment was useful during the early years of our country. he, it is outdated and should be abolished except for the right to own bonafide hunting rifles and shotguns. there is absolutely no justification to personally own handguns and assault weapons since more people are killed by them than saved by them.

    July 22, 2012 06:01 pm at 6:01 pm |
  21. Stan

    If a responsible, registered (sane) gun owner had been in that theather that night, this would likely have had a VERY different outcome. So you say "have tighter laws and controls"....or "make more 'Gun-Free' Zones". The only thing that does is hinder normal people from getting trained up in using and carrying guns responsibly. Think about it - CRIMINALS, TERRORISTS AND THE DERANGED DO NOT FOLLOW GUN CONTROL LAWS. NEVER HAVE AND NEVER WILL!
    All these laws and restrictions just leave more people vulnerable to these idiots!
    Even a crack-head chasin' a fix won't attack you with a stick if he believes you have a stick at least as big as his and you know how to use it!

    July 22, 2012 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  22. Critical Thinker

    The Second Amendment was useful during the early years of our country. However, it is outdated and should be abolished except for the right to own bonafide hunting rifles and shotguns. There is absolutely no justification to personally own handguns and assault weapons since more people are killed by them than saved by them.

    July 22, 2012 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  23. SD

    The Theater had openly posted 'No Guns Allowed' signs; Aurora, Colorado has many gun control laws...none of them stopped the man...obviously gun control laws only stop the law abiding citizens from using them.

    I can only imagine how many might have been saved were we allowed to uphold our 2nd amendment right to 'bear arms'!

    July 22, 2012 06:05 pm at 6:05 pm |
  24. huckknuckler

    America goes to two wars for ten years, spends trillions of dollars of taxpayer money while at the same time losing thousands more men and women in the military when terrorists kill 3,000 Americans.30,000 Americans a year die from gunshots and 100,000 are wounded.6,000 of them are murdered by fellow Americans and all people and politicians do is grieve for a few days, light a few candles, have a prayer vigil and get back to business as usual in a couple of days.Murderers are not terrorists and that many deaths don't warrant a war especially on guns so why bother to do anything at all.If a noose hung people at fifty drops a minute then something would surely be done to fix a noose problem.
    All the rights in the world don't matter to those who have died of gunshots but the rights of the gun owner are sacrosanct because an assault weapon that can kill at 50 rounds a minute is a must for protecting their homes and families against a tyrannical government that might take away their rights to protect themselves from the politicians they have elected into office who might disagree with them enough to drive them over the edge and make them use those weapons.Crazy people can use that huge loophole if they desire to and of course it isn't possible to separate the crazies from the normal population even if they do get rejected by a gun range for being weird.

    What is wrong with this picture.....? Does America just get what it asks for ? How sorry are we when a friend, relative or even children die from a gunshot.Not that sorry it would seem as guns are our best friends and must be protected at all costs..

    July 22, 2012 06:08 pm at 6:08 pm |
  25. Ralph G.

    Stricter gun control does not mean taking the shotguns away from Kansas farmers, it means taking the AK-47s away from psychos. Does anyone need to purchase AK-47s? Our founding farmers would be rolling their eyes if they saw how the right to bear arms was being ill-used today.

    July 22, 2012 06:15 pm at 6:15 pm |
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