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. gg

    mexico should be the biggest warning of all ,when guns get out of control

    July 22, 2012 11:35 pm at 11:35 pm |
  2. Terry Chess

    Many politicians argue that stricter gun controls would not stop the slaughter. President Obama's press secretary said that the President is for enforcing the laws already on the books, not legislating new ones. But, answer this: When our laws that allow nuts to legally buy ammo over the internet – "something is rotten in Denmark

    July 22, 2012 11:42 pm at 11:42 pm |
  3. Chris

    I'm all for compromise. I'm anNRA supporter, but I disagree with them on a few issues. I don't have a problem registering my firearms, and I don't mind placing a ban on high capacity firearms. I also don't mind a rigid training requirement for all conceal carry permit holders, as well as a mental health evaluation. In return, I would like to see the anti-gun crowd compromise. I want a guarantee that firearms will not be taken away from law abiding citizens, I want to see conceal carry permits become recognized in ALL 50 states and US Territories...Also, those who hate the NRA, also hate 50% of the nations citizens, because it is them who financially support the NRA. Without the masses, the NRA would not exist.

    July 22, 2012 11:44 pm at 11:44 pm |
  4. ge

    when your family is not safe at school or the mall or the theater or walking down the street eating skiddles you might have a gun problem

    July 22, 2012 11:51 pm at 11:51 pm |
  5. Jake


    1. Can anybody honestly tell me how "registration" of firearms could have prevented this?
    2. The assault weapons ban in 1994 did not stop the Columbine shooting in 1999.
    3. Canada just scrapped their firearm registration after 10 years and cover 2 billion dollars and it did not solve ONE crime!

    20,000 guns laws in the books yet crazies still have and use guns. Do you really think that 20,001 law will make a difference?

    July 22, 2012 11:51 pm at 11:51 pm |
  6. Po

    Let's try control and and see if the massacres stop. What we have now isn't working.

    July 23, 2012 12:15 am at 12:15 am |
  7. Po

    What is this nations facination with guns?–Sick! Collect art or something.

    July 23, 2012 12:16 am at 12:16 am |
  8. amanda johnson

    guns don't kill people. people kill people.

    July 23, 2012 12:17 am at 12:17 am |
  9. Po

    If you can't find a gun, you can't use it. Let's all use our fist instead.

    July 23, 2012 12:18 am at 12:18 am |
  10. Brian S.

    Changing the gun laws because of what some idiot did is a waste of time. All that will do is prevent responsible people from owning guns. You think changing the laws will keep people that want to do harm from getting guns? Then I ask you this...A lot of people smoke marijuana in the U.S.. Did they purchase thier marijuana leagally? Just because something is illegal does not mean it can not be obtained.

    July 23, 2012 12:25 am at 12:25 am |
  11. sp

    When are the politicians and the gun control advocates going to learn....it doesn't matter how strict you make gun laws. individuals or groups out to cause harm are not the people that are going to follow the laws, rules or regulations anyway. Strict gun laws only make it harder for law abiding citizens to obtain weapons. The lawless will always be able to obtain weapons via other means. If you outlaw guns then the people with intent to harm will move to homemade alternatives like explosive devices. Comments like if he had not had an Assault Rifle he would not be able to shoot 71 people shows a lack of gun knowledge. How long do you think it takes to reload a 19 round semi auto pistol and how many clips do you thing a person with intent can carry and fire. Long Rifle, semi auto pistol, revolver all weapons can be reloaded in seconds. Is there a place in this society where a 100 round drum magazine is needed? Probably not. Does making them illegal to have put them out of reach? Definitely not. Sad and senseless events will take place and have taken place throughout time with or without high capacity weapons. Thinking gun control laws will curb the senseless killings of innocents is a pipe dream and wishful thinking. Having sensable rules and regs that protect and preserve the 2nd amendment rights of all citizens would be more responsible. If you are concerned about the one person in millions that may go off the deep end and perpetrate this type of crime then maybe the responsible thing to do is to secure your own concealed carry permit and get the training needed to protect you and your family. Politicians in need of a grandstand and News worthy wannabees with an agenda will use this latest incendent to beat the drum for gun control. What it all boils down to is that you cannot regulate the crazies or the ones with evil intent. It's like a restraining order. It looks great on paper but when it gets right down to it that paper isn't going to stop anyone and the order is un-enforceable. Be responsible and support the Rights that this country was founded on. Do not allow the few or the misinformed to attack every American Citizens right as put forth in the Constitution of the United States. My heart and prayers go out to the families of those killed and wounded by someone who could not live within this society and chose to lash out at the innocent. Painful, Senseless, hurtful and heartless. Lovedones who were lost, those who lost Lovedones and those who lost a part of themselves can never get back what was taken. As a society we will mourn these losses. As a society we will grow from this in wisdom and understanding. Do not be misled by the grandstanders and those with an agenda. Be strong in your faith and love for this country and your rights as an AMERICAN CITIZEN.

    July 23, 2012 12:36 am at 12:36 am |
  12. chasbronson

    Had this NOT been a gun free zone,and one ,or two firearm carrying citizens been present the carnage would have been cut in half, and the costs to prosecute a dead criminal would be small.The real problem is that the criminal justice system does very little to deter this and,many other types of assaults because the perps have more rights than the victims.Just look at the terrorist that killed and wounded the Fort Hood victims.He is alive ,well, and still recieving his pay in a protected environment with all his needs being met.Some consequences to their evil deeds,huh? More gun laws only take away guns from those who have done nothing wrong.It emboldens criminals because they now have helpless victims,and they know it.What don't you stupid people understand that criminals do not obey laws to start with.That is why they are called criminals.

    July 23, 2012 12:38 am at 12:38 am |
  13. Bob

    Gun control isn't the solution. It's effective against the bad guys, but completely ineffective against crazy. Crazy and smart is on a whole different level. This guy had the intellect and sophistication to make IEDs. If he didn't have an assault rifle, he could have just left a backpack with a pipe bomb in it.

    July 23, 2012 12:43 am at 12:43 am |
  14. chasbronson

    In an evil society where there is no severe and swift punishment for deeds like this,it will flourish with those who will carry out such carnage, because the price is small.The death penalty#1 eliminates repeat offenders,#2 deters those that may decide to repeat the offender. Society itself has become indoctrinated to believe that criminals have rights too.Wrong,The second they commit these acts,they have forfeited their rights.The lawyers have become fat rich with the legal system of trying to give criminals rights.

    July 23, 2012 12:48 am at 12:48 am |
  15. Rob

    Traitors to the Second Amendment / U.S. Constitution, such as Fienstien and Bloomberg, should be removed from office with extreme prejudice. The sooner, the better.

    July 23, 2012 01:18 am at 1:18 am |
  16. movinman

    Anytime any politico makes any statement whatsoever for gun control, the NRA reminds them that they will spend millions against them at re-election if they don't shut up and play ball. Sadly most of them will sell out their consituents simply to have a chance to remain in office. Until something is done to limit a lobbys power we will continue to see assult weapons affect our daily lives.

    July 23, 2012 01:18 am at 1:18 am |
  17. Thomas

    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.

    Gozar , Mike Bloomberg a tyical Liberal Elite ? what can I say !

    At some poit in time , Guns won't keep us free from ourselves ..

    July 23, 2012 01:23 am at 1:23 am |
  18. Name micky walker

    As I see it,

    Bloomberg and Fienstein need to go fly a kite.. Gun control is not the answer and never has been. People control is what is needed.
    All gun control does is penalize the honest citizens and does nearly nothing to stop this sort of crazy behavior. Enforce the hundreds of laws already on the books.

    July 23, 2012 01:32 am at 1:32 am |
  19. Jim

    The idea that one's rights has limits, yelling fire in a crowded theater, must also be balanced with the most basic premise all our laws are founded on – The presumption of innocence. The presumption that some one who wishes to own a military design based rifle with high capacity magazines intent is unlawful flies in the face of this and is exactly the opposite – if you have one of those-you must be up to no good. Does anyone even stop to think that the majority of the "type" of firearms are used for formal target shooting events – by a great many ex-military personnel. Would it surprise those clamoring for their outlaw that they represent the firearms type LEAST used for violence against others.
    This heartless turd wouldn't need them to cause mayhem, with his education and IQ, its a wonder all those poor people didn't wind up in a VX or Bio weapon attack. The is no making sense out of the actions of a vile, evil sociopath who has ambitions of being the "Joker". There is however sensible things that can be done to spot these people before they go of the deep end and shoot a senator or a room full of moviegoers. Look for the signs of mental illness, and dont be afraid to send out the police on a welfare check to contact someone who is acting out of the ordinary. The life you save may not just be theirs.

    July 23, 2012 01:39 am at 1:39 am |
  20. BeverlyNC

    Maybe if we banned the NRA, we would have the ability to pass sane gun control laws. NO ONE needs an automatic weapon and they should be unavailable except to the police and the military. There are gun deaths in my city every single night as there are all over the nation. People couldn't have murdered other people if they did not have the gun as the means. The gun is the leading factor in these murders. A moment of conflict or anger and a gun present leads to a needless death and more violence. The NRA is the perfect example of why lobbyists should be banned from interacting with members of Congress and from giving them anything monetary or taken on a trip or even to dinner. It should be illegal and corrupt – as it is- and those caught lose their seat in Congress forever and the lobbyist fined and sent to jail. We would then have members of Congress working for the People again and not for the highest bidder or corporation.

    July 23, 2012 01:50 am at 1:50 am |
  21. 1benza

    I understand that America is a "wild" country and that in order to protect home and hearth in whatever form it may take it is seemingly necessary to bear arms under the 2nd Amendment. But why does a person need extended clips, silencers, gas, grenades, flashbangs, machine guns, bazookas to defend his home? Seems a wee bit silly. Oh don't forget the end all justification for the availability of these items to normal consumers, "HUNTING". What in God's Holy Name are people hunting that they need 300 round extended magazines, grenade launchers, and silencers?

    July 23, 2012 02:01 am at 2:01 am |
  22. Joe D.

    The only fanatic whose voice is missing so far is Chuck Shurmer's, but I am sure he will be piping up shortly. Bloomberg is a big city liberal who thinks big sodas need regulation and whose city's gun laws have been hugely ineffective. Feinstein comes from the Peoples Republic of California and thinks it is OK for people to be licensed to buy firearms – another typical left wing idea.

    The guy did not, by the way, have an assault rifle. It was not a machine gun or fully automatic weapon, but it looks like one. That may not make any difference to the victims, but it does make a difference regarding the law.

    The thing that concerns gun owners like me the most is the "camel's nose in the tent" concept. When is the last time you saw the government take just a little bit of anything? The more power of regulation they are given, the more they want and the more they seize. Gun owners in England and Australia learned that the hard way. Now they have no firearms in personal hands and must rely on the government's authorities to protect them – often with horrible results. (Look at what happened during the London riots.) This tragedy was the result of a demented, vile fiend, but no reasonable laws would have stopped him from finding some way to try for his moments of "glory." It is a terrible shame, but this is the result of an evil mind much more than inadequate legislation.

    July 23, 2012 02:08 am at 2:08 am |
  23. MBR

    Even if every gun on the planet magically disappeared, does anyone think that the nutcase in Colorado, who turned his apartment into a bomb factory, would have said 'drat, I can't shoot anyone' and have spent the rest of his life as a model citizen?

    We do have a problem in this country, but we simply do not want to discuss how to deal with people who have mental health problems.

    July 23, 2012 02:51 am at 2:51 am |
  24. law abiding gun owner

    65 million people own guns legally, one person goes crazy and shoots a bunch of people, now all 65 million people are criminals? punish the individual, not the means. Cars kill more people then guns, so take those away first before you start bashing gun owners.

    July 23, 2012 03:00 am at 3:00 am |
  25. Anonymous

    people use ar15 type rifles for hunting, competition, home defence and target practice. People also use knives in the kitched and butcher shops, so why is it that when someone goes around stabbing people, all you people dont try to have stricter knife regulations? This is rediculous. Criminals dont obey laws, so why do you think that gun laws will prevent crimes? Take away guns from people, only criminals will have them... now how does that help this situation?

    July 23, 2012 03:09 am at 3:09 am |
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