A victim of the Colorado movie theater mass shooting has got a question for President Obama and his GOP challenger Mitt Romney on the issue of gun violence: Where’s your plan to stop gun violence?
In an ad sponsored by the United Against Illegal Guns Support Fund, the fundraising arm of New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s gun control organization, Mayors Against Illegal Guns, Stephen Barton appears in an empty movie theater and tells voters to join him in demanding a plan from the two presidential candidates.
“This past summer in a movie theatre in Colorado I was shot,” the 22-year-old says, showing off wounds he sustained to his face and neck during the melee on July 20, in which 58 people (including Barton) were wounded and 12 people were killed.
“But I was lucky,” Barton continues. “In the next four years, 48,000 Americans won’t be so lucky. Because they’ll be murdered with guns in the next president’s term. Enough to fill over 200 theaters.”
“So when you watch the presidential debates, ask yourself: Who has a plan to stop gun violence? Let’s demand a plan,” he concludes in the 30-second ad scheduled to air during the presidential debate on Wednesday.
So far during the 2012 campaign season, both candidates have been coy with respect to their positions on gun control.
Obama has voiced his support for renewing the Assault Weapons Ban, but has also sent mixed signals through his Press Secretary Jay Carney who said, in the wake of the Aurora shooting, that the administration did not have plans to push for new gun laws.
And Romney told Piers Morgan on July 26 that he did not “support new gun laws in our country.” He also told Morgan that the “effort to continue to look for some law to somehow make violence go away is missing the point.”
The key, Romney explained, is to identify deranged or distressed people and then “keep them from carrying out terrible acts.”
For Barton, a recent Syracuse graduate and Fulbright scholar who now does victim outreach and policy research for MAIG, and other members of the gun control community, those responses from the candidates were insufficient.
“We’re just disappointed that Gov. Romney and President Obama haven’t addressed gun violence in a concrete, specific way,” Barton told CNN in an interview. “And so basically we’re demanding a plan from both of them. In advance of a presidential election, and presidential debate in Denver, and asking that they put forth something specific, aside from just platitudes and moments of silence, and actually get down to the business of preventing that violence.”
“At some point we have to demand a certain level of courage and independence among politicians. At some point you just have to expect more, even in an election season,” Barton continued. “It’s really just a very basic request.”
Indeed, it is a rather simple request. But one wonders what type of plan MAIG is looking for?
A plan that, among other things, decriminalizes the use of marijuana and strengthens the 2nd Amendment rights of all law-abiding citizens (especially in places like D.C., Chicago, and NYC,) would probably do a lot to reduce gun violence and crime, but would MAIG support it?
Or would MAIG favor a plan that calls for highly ineffective and Constitutionally dubious stop-and-frisk tactics as well as gun control measures that undermine a citizen’s natural right to self-defense while doing nothing to reduce gun violence?
There are a lot of plans and theories out there on how best to reduce gun violence, but among those only a few have the potential to be effective. And none of them, despite what MAIG claims, involve gun control vis a vis NYC.