WASHINGTON -- Rep. Ed Perlmutter, who represents Aurora, Colo., where a gunman opened fire at a midnight showing of "The Dark Knight Rises," originally ran for Congress on a pledge to support reviving a federal assault weapons ban.
Details about the weapons that alleged shooter James Eagan Holmes used in the massacre are still emerging, but the killings are certain to revive debate over gun control and whether more should be done to restrict access to firearms.
Perlmutter, a moderate Democrat who represents Colorado's 7th District, was elected to Congress in 2006. During the hard-fought Democratic primary, he ran ads against rival Peggy Lamm, a former state representative, that accused her of ties to the Republican gun lobby.
Although Aurora was recently named one of the safest cities in America, the issue of gun control resonates there. Aurora is less than 20 miles from the site of the Columbine High School shootings, which left 13 people dead in 1999.
Before the 2006 primary, Perlmutter campaigned with the father of a victim of the Columbine massacre. Tom Mauser, whose son Daniel was among a dozen students killed, said he supported the former state senator because Perlmutter promised to work to revive the assault weapons ban that expired in 2004. The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence also endorsed Perlmutter.
Perlmutter's Republican challenger this year is Joe Coors, the 70-year-old great-grandson of beer baron Adolph Coors. After the shooting, he said on his Facebook page, "Words can't capture the horror and tragedy of the shooting this morning in Aurora. The families and loved ones of the victims, as well as the emergency and medical professionals, are in mine and Gail's thoughts and prayers."
The National Rifle Association endorsed Coors earlier this month. "Joe Coors is a strong supporter of national concealed carry, the Firearms Interstate Commerce Reform Act, and legislation to help open access to public lands to sportsmen," the NRA said. "In contrast, his opponent, Congressman Ed Perlmutter, voted against the Sportsmen’s Heritage Act of 2012 and the National Right to Carry Reciprocity Act. In addition, Congressman Perlmutter supports the reauthorization of the Clinton Gun Ban and refused to sign both the Heller and McDonald amicus briefs."
In welcoming the NRA's endorsement, Coors said, "My opponent seems to think that taking guns away from the good guys will keep the bad guys from getting them." He continued, "Unlike my opponent, I trust Colorado's gun owners and will work in Congress to ensure that they enjoy the freedom the Second Amendment guarantees, not less."