Kin of Colorado theater victims want guns discussed in presidential debate

DENVER Mon Oct 1, 2012 8:33pm EDT

A note left at a memorial to those killed in the movie theater shootings is seen in Aurora, Colorado July 28, 2012. REUTERS/Rick Wilking

A note left at a memorial to those killed in the movie theater shootings is seen in Aurora, Colorado July 28, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Rick Wilking

DENVER (Reuters) - Relatives of victims of a Colorado movie theater shooting rampage demanded on Monday that President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney address gun violence in their first presidential debate this week in Denver.

In a letter to debate moderator Jim Lehrer, relatives of eight of the 12 people who died at a midnight screening of "The Dark Knight Rises" in July urged him to ask the men who want to lead the country about mass shootings in Colorado at Wednesday night's debate.

"To ignore the problem of gun violence where two of the worst shootings in U.S. history took place - Aurora and Columbine - would not only be noticeable by its absence but would slight the memories of our loved ones killed," the letter said.

James Holmes, a former neuroscience graduate student, has been charged with murder and attempted murder in the July 20 rampage, one of the worst U.S. outbursts of gun violence in recent years. In addition to those killed, 58 people were wounded.

That rampage took place about 15 miles from the scene of a 1999 shooting at Columbine High School, where two students shot dead a teacher and 12 students before committing suicide.

A spokesman for the Public Broadcasting System's "NewsHour" show that Lehrer hosts said the group's letter was passed along to him and that Lehrer was en route to Denver for the debate at the University of Denver and not available for comment.

Talk of reining in America's gun culture is considered politically risky for Obama ahead of the November election. He called for an end to "senseless violence" after the movie theater shootings and another this summer at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin but has been careful not to take a stand on gun control.

Romney has said that additional laws would not have stopped the massacre.

In a separate initiative, a man wounded in the theater shooting, Stephen Barton, appears in a television ad that will air nationally this week in which he asks the candidates to explain how they would reduce gun violence.

"I never thought I'd be a shooting victim until I was bleeding on a floor in Aurora," Barton said in a statement. "I was lucky, but I've seen what happens when dangerous people get their hands on guns. And I think it's fair to ask the men who want to lead the country to get past the platitudes and give us a serious plan to address a serious problem."

The ad features Barton sitting in an empty theater explaining how he was shot in the face and neck, adding that 48,000 Americans will be killed by firearms in the next four years unless lawmakers take action.

The ad is sponsored by Mayors Against Illegal Guns, a coalition of 725 U.S. mayors led by Michael Bloomberg of New York and Thomas Menino of Boston that advocates closing loopholes in gun laws to prevent felons, the mentally ill and "other dangerous people" from obtaining firearms.

Bloomberg said in a statement about Barton's ad: "When the candidates walk into that auditorium, I hope they'll be thinking about another theater a few miles away where a dozen people were murdered, and dozens more were injured like Stephen."

(Editing By Cynthia Johnston)

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Comments (11)
jrpardinas wrote:
Good luck with that!

This would be in the same league as demanding that the presidential candidates debate the just need to establish a homeland for the Palestinians.

In either case you’re up against a pretty formidable special-interest lobby – and if there’s one thing politicians know, it is who butters their toast.

Oct 01, 2012 8:48pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
Nurgle wrote:
The proliferation of handguns and the fact that the United States is the largest arms dealer in the world makes me embarrassed to be American. It is barbaric nonsense completely contrary to the best interests of society. You don’t have to take people’s guns away to address the problem either. The government should take a page from Bain Capital and just buy Smith & Wesson et al, find the good folks who work there new jobs, and shut it down. In about 100 years the problem will take care of itself.

Oct 01, 2012 9:24pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
ccharles wrote:
Its easy to point out a problem area. We already know this exsist, but how do you propose we deal with it? Take away guns isnt about to happen. Theres freedoms attached to our right to have guns. We have alot of laws enacted regarding guns, and we are constantly improving. But taking guns away is off the table … so what do they propose?

There only one option. Upon a conviction of murder the person is executed with in 30 days by firing squad. I know this is too savage to do. How is housing people for 30 years working out for you?

Keep in mind that Chicago has 25-50 murders on any given weekend, and New York not too far behind, and both of these citys have strict no gun laws. Just telling someone that they shouldnt have something dosnt work.

Oct 01, 2012 10:17pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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