Debate ad demands gun plan from candidates

Monday, October 1, 2012 - 9:00am

As Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama prepare to square off at Wednesday's presidential debate in Denver, a survivor of the deadly shooting outside that city in July is pushing the candidates to spell out plans to stem deadly gun violence.

Stephen Barton, a 22-year old recent college graduate and Fulbright scholar, was shot in the face and neck during the July 20 movie theater shooting in Aurora, Colorado, that left 12 others dead. In an ad set to air nationally during Wednesday's debate, Barton sits in an empty movie theater and says he was lucky to survive the massacre.

"In the next four years, 48,000 Americans won't be so lucky," he continues in the commercial, which is sponsored by the group Mayors Against Illegal Guns. "Because they'll be murdered with guns in the next president's term, enough to fill over two hundred theaters. So when you watch the presidential debates, ask yourself, 'Who has a plan to stop gun violence?'"

Speaking on CNN's "Starting Point with Soledad O'Brien" Monday, Barton said neither candidate has offered enough of a plan to stop guns from being used to kill people.

"We're just disappointed that Gov. Romney and President Obama haven't addressed gun violence in a concrete, specific way," Barton said. "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."

Following the Colorado shooting, both Romney and Obama offered condolences for the victims, as well as suspended campaign activities and stripped their ads from Colorado airwaves. Two days after the massacre, Obama flew to Aurora to meet with families of the victims.

The question of tighter restrictions on owning guns has been largely ignored in this year's presidential campaign, even following the rampage in Colorado and an August shooting at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin. Democrats, who in the 1990s were vocal in pushing for tighter gun laws, rarely address the issue today, and Republicans generally oppose tighter gun restrictions.

Speaking aboard Air Force One on July 22 as the president flew to meet with families of those killed in the Colorado shooting, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said Obama did not have plans to push for new laws in light of the massacre.

Romney, in an interview with CNN's Piers Morgan on July 26, said he did not "support new gun laws in our country."

The presumptive GOP nominee added later that "the effort to continue to look for some law to somehow make violence go away is missing the point."

On CNN Monday, Barton said the issue of gun violence needed to be spoken about more on the campaign trail.

"Aside from just having a mention of it in the debates, we hope that it actually becomes a relevant issue in this election," he said. "That despite the fact that there's sensitive politics involved, that both candidates address the issue in a specific way."

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