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. John N Florida

    Laws restricting the purchase of weapons by citizens did not exist until the 20th Century. The 2nd Amendment contains no 'military restriction' for the simple fact that the Amendment was designed to allow the citizens to overthrow a Despotic Government and the military that government controlled. As far as the 2nd Amendment is concerned, any weapon which the military can use, the civilians are entitled to have to defeat, if necessary, that same military. Ship, air, or personal.
    In the 2nd Militia Act, 1792, Congress passed and President Washington signed the first law which actually required all males to acquire/buy a firearm so that they could ALL serve in the militia.
    During the Spanish-America War, the Rough Riders were equipped with the M1895 Colt-Browning 7 mm machine guns. They were purchased by a private citizen and given to the corps.
    The first law of note which restricted any weapon from civilian acquisition was the National Firearms Act of 1934 which made it illegal (with exceptions) to purchase/obtain a Thompson Sub-machine gun. This was Congress reacting to the proliferation of gangsters and their use of the Thompson.
    The Smith & Wesson AR-15 used in this latest shooting was legal in all aspects. How you craft a law which can effectively stop this type of incident, I don't know and I don't believe any one else has a better idea.
    A guy OR GAL like Holmes can slip through any net you want to devise.

    July 22, 2012 06:16 pm at 6:16 pm |
  2. mike

    forget it non of our leaders have the guts to stand up to the NRA..they are all cowards when it comes to this!

    July 22, 2012 06:17 pm at 6:17 pm |
  3. cheflowfat

    Now it is ample time for the NRA to step up and show that their organization cares about what their member do, first there should be a system they setup , that connect all gun store with each other nationwide , so stores can see if someone is stocking up an ammo and guns, if such a system was in place , all the stores where this guy by all these guns and ammo , could see and track his purchase, thus raising a red flag.

    July 22, 2012 06:18 pm at 6:18 pm |
  4. ConcernedSoldier

    The police chief said in his press conference that he was "very proud" of his police department. That the first police car was "on site" 90 seconds after the first 911 call was placed. Yet this guy was able to shoot 71 people and walk out of the theater to his car. The only thing the police can do is clean up the mess! They didn't prevent anything. 90 seconds. Think about that. The current law prevents the ONLY thing capable of stopping this sort of terroism, which is an ARMED citizen. The current law regulates when and where a citizen can carry and in this case since this theater seats more than 2500 people it is unlawful to carry. This law prevented citizens from protecting themselves which is allowed under the 2nd amendment. Not just in your house but anywhere. This terroist probably knew that. He probably knew he would be unchallenged. Responsible citizens will follow the law. We need no worry about them. It's the criminal that will not abide by the law. So to what point do you regulate guns? If he walked in that theater with his daddy's single shot he still would have killed a few because he would have been unchallenged! Gun control caused this!

    July 22, 2012 06:26 pm at 6:26 pm |
  5. bear

    People tell you that a gun is necessary when you need it. Then why doesn't the NRA tell everyone they need a generator in case their power goes out.

    July 22, 2012 06:29 pm at 6:29 pm |
  6. G19

    The second amendment is straight forward – it is a God given right, not a granted privilege by the government, for individuals to be able to protect themselves however that may be. It is not dependent on being in a militia for an American to possess arms for that protection which is not just personal, but against tyranny as well. Look at all tyrannies, the subjugation of those people by a dictator is through denial of weapons, their mechanism to keep the masses at bay so they can do as they please. This country’s founders have made sure that that can’t happen to Americans through the Second Amendment. It’s not just so we can go hunting for deer. Dianne Feinstein’s former bill and arguments to limit Americans access to large capacity magazines or assault type rifles undermines that right to be able to adequately defend ourselves from a tyrannical government. Going down her path you would eventually be led to defending yourself with a single shot .22 against fully equipped armies being manipulated by a potential tyrannical government, if you could possess a weapon at all. Ask the Brits. Look at the carnage in the Middle East over the last year. Dictators subjugating their people for decades, their citizens barely able to defend themselves and most likely not able to without outside assistance. The ultimate check on our government is not from the 3 branches keeping one another in check, or the current pathetic press, it is the fact that the Second Amendment says I can defend myself from people like James Holmes, a potential tyrannical American government, or the U.N. which now may be given the chance to take my Second Amendment rights away. It is the lulled minds of people like gun control advocates that weaken this country and put the individuals security in jeopardy, not people like Holmes, Cho, or the like. Holmes and liberal gun control advocates are the examples of why the founding fathers had the sense to put our God given right to defend ourselves in the Constitution as the Second Amendment. Wake up people!

    July 22, 2012 06:34 pm at 6:34 pm |
  7. fred37ify

    The 9-11 terrorist didn't use guns ! Gun control laws won't stop a smart dedicated person determined to commit mayhem ! NEVER HAPPEN !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1111

    July 22, 2012 06:40 pm at 6:40 pm |
  8. grafyter

    @ Garcho – Sweden has very strict gun laws. France has very strict gun laws. Britain has very strict gun laws. All three have had gun related massacres in the last decade....Sweden and France in the last year. So much for gun control.

    July 22, 2012 06:42 pm at 6:42 pm |
  9. Joseph

    The recent shooting at the theatre in Aurora, Colorado, is terrible. However, as the usual knee jerk reaction begins as it always does after any type of tragedy in this Country (for example – The passage of the PATRIOT Act after 9-11) attempting to pass new, non-sensical legislation doesn't make any sense. Gun deaths are at a 20-year low and continue to fall. Violent crime continues to drop each year (except in those areas with strict gun control laws). The Colorado shooting was an exception that probably couldn't be prevented, even if AR-15's and large capacity magazines were eliminated. Crazy people will find a way to hurt themselves or others (sometimes lots of others). Our society is safer today than it has ever been. Don't get caught up in the hysteria.

    July 22, 2012 06:42 pm at 6:42 pm |
  10. kirk

    "Laws that forbid the carrying of arms...disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes...Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants; they serve rather to encourage than to prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed man." -Thomas Jefferson, quoting Cesare Beccaria.

    July 22, 2012 06:44 pm at 6:44 pm |
  11. John

    Face it. If the NRA says we need assault rifles to protect ourselves and our families then that will be the law. I want an Abrams tank so I can kill the nasty little squirl in my yard. So I'm going to ask the NRA to help me get it. Or how about an anti air missile for those darn birds that do their thing on my car. The NRA is too big for the judges or congressmen to overturn anything they want. Get over it. This post is brought to you by Sarcasim inc.

    July 22, 2012 06:45 pm at 6:45 pm |
  12. kirk

    first an ar15 is not an assault rifle it is a semi auto version of an m16 no different than any other semi auto weapon first
    second look at Norway strictest gun control law and a huge massacre and no chance of anyone stopping him
    third you would have to get 3/4 of the states to ratify this good luck with that NOT GONNA HAPPEN
    "Laws that forbid the carrying of arms...disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes...Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants; they serve rather to encourage than to prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed man." -Thomas Jefferson, quoting Cesare Beccaria.

    July 22, 2012 06:52 pm at 6:52 pm |
  13. david

    No civilian needs a 40 round clip for a Glock or a 100 round clip for an AK-15. If the ignorant morons don't want to outlaw guns, then they should use any amount of common sense they were given by God and outlaw these accessories that have one and only one purpose...killing humans.

    July 22, 2012 06:55 pm at 6:55 pm |
  14. NYCLPoster

    Yeah MM, and if everyone in that theater was armed maybe the gunman would have been stopped after capping only one person. Your argument is not sound. You can make all the gun laws you want but they only take guns away from law abiding citizens. Criminals will always be able to get their hands on weapons.

    July 22, 2012 06:58 pm at 6:58 pm |
  15. Chipster

    The NRA and other conservatives want to use Voter ID legislation to make it more difficult to vote but they object to background checks to ensure there are no outstanding warrants for people purchasing guns. Listen up! Liberals don't oppose the 2nd Amendment. We OWN guns too! We just want to prevent criminals with outstanding warrants from getting them so easily. We would prefer for our police forces to be less likely to encounter AK47s and talon bullets. Is common sense too much to ask?

    July 22, 2012 06:59 pm at 6:59 pm |
  16. MikeRiley

    Is there any reason to believe this guy wouldn't have been able to get a gun if there were more strict rules in place? And if he couldn't get one legally, does anyone really believe he couldn't have gotten one off the street? Criminals and people plotting to commit a crime do not follow the laws. The only people stricter gun control laws will effect are the law abiding citizens who wouldn't have committed a crime anyway. People need to stop blaming laws and start blaming the people that broke them in the first place. Our gun control laws are not to blame for this shooting, the shooter is.

    July 22, 2012 07:09 pm at 7:09 pm |
  17. exrepublican

    The old saying that goes, "Guns don't kill people. People kill people". Should have a third line saying, "PEOPLE WITH GUNS"!!!!

    July 22, 2012 07:10 pm at 7:10 pm |
  18. Desmond , a Canadian

    Bloomberg, a person with common sense in a country that has replaced it with a stupid, pre-historic sense of the "macho"

    July 22, 2012 07:12 pm at 7:12 pm |
  19. Dm

    If we did a better job of teaching kids from early on to respect human life and property.And that there are consequences and punishment for violating these,maybe fewer sickos would turn to such extreme violence.

    July 22, 2012 07:12 pm at 7:12 pm |
  20. gg

    many hunters have been attacked by gangs of dear and rabbits–thats why assault rifles are necessary

    July 22, 2012 07:13 pm at 7:13 pm |
  21. gmiller

    There is more lives taken every week by abortions then firearms.

    July 22, 2012 07:14 pm at 7:14 pm |
  22. steven

    NRA lobbies are the strongest in the nation. Nothing will prevent or reduce the number of guns on the streets. Too many Americans love their guns. The wild west is coming back.

    July 22, 2012 07:19 pm at 7:19 pm |
  23. readon

    I think it's disgusting how anyone can defend someone's right to have an assult weapon after something like
    this assault on innocent people. Also, the NRA has so much power over congress, and President Obama & Mitt Romney
    Etc. they will not act on it. Where are the rights of Americans who want to be able to live their lives without fear of unsatble people with assault weapons gunning down innocent people in America??

    July 22, 2012 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |
  24. Dr. Michael S. Brown

    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.

    The "Assault Weapon Ban" championed by Senator Feinstein was a failure for two reasons. First, it is impossible to define what an assault weapon is. They tried, but very similar rifles were still available. Second, banning weapons has never kept criminals and lunatics from carrying out their plans. Humans are very smart and adaptable, even the crazy ones.

    Gun control laws have never been effective, in fact they usually make things worse by giving criminals an advantage over citizens who obey the law. Even our grandstanding politicians have come to accept that fact. Well, except for a few.

    July 22, 2012 07:24 pm at 7:24 pm |
  25. Pastor Paul

    There are laws against canibus but people still smoke it. there are laws against cocain and it still ruins lives. what makes anyone believe that tighter gun control laws will change anything. Our own Government gave guns to the drug cartels! If you ban a gun it just means that law abiding people wont have one. On the other hand lawless people will still get one on the street. The gun was not the cause but the object used. If you place a loaded gun on the table for 100 yrs it will kill no one. Put it in the hands of a maniac and it will kill a nation. What we need is to look at the root cause of the problem that is making people want to harm others and fix our society. It doesnt have to be a gun. It could have just as easily been a bomb or worse. Dont get distracted with the object force a change in the root cause

    July 22, 2012 07:24 pm at 7:24 pm |
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