In the aftermath of the theater shooting in Aurora, Colorado, both Mitt Romney and President Obama offered their condolences, then spent the next few weeks trying to prevent gun control from becoming an issue in the campaign. Now with the candidates heading to the University of Denver for Wednesday’s debate, survivors and victims’ families — along with Mayor Bloomberg, of course — are demanding that Romney and Obama answer questions on the topic. “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,” they wrote in a letter to debate moderator Jim Lehrer.
Reuters reports that relatives of eight of the twelve people who died during the midnight screening of The Dark Knight Rises urged Lehrer to question the candidates about gun control. A spokesman for PBS’s NewsHour said Lehrer has received the letter but isn’t available for comment as he’s en route to Colorado.
Stephen Barton, who was wounded in the shooting, also pushed the issue in a television ad released earlier on Monday. In the spot, which will air nationally, Barton says that 48,000 Americans will be killed by guns in the next four years, “So when you watch the presidential debates, ask yourself who has a plan to stop gun violence.”
Mayor Bloomberg was the most vocal critic of Obama’s and Romney’s responses to the shooting, so it’s no surprise that Mayors Against Illegal Guns, the coalition he co-founded, sponsored the ad. He released his own statement on the matter, saying, “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.”
Barton added that after experiencing the effects of gun violence, “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.” He’s certainly right, but considering how Romney and Obama repeatedly dodged the issue over the summer, it seems unlikely that the victims of the Aurora shooting will get the response they’re looking for.