WASHINGTON -- The Brady Campaign is putting pressure on PBS NewsHour host Jim Lehrer to ask about gun violence when he leads the first presidential debate on Oct. 3.
In a petition launched Monday, the gun control group says Lehrer should ask President Barack Obama and Republican presumptive presidential nominee Mitt Romney about their plans for preventing gun deaths and injuries. The location of the debate is particularly relevant to the issue: It is taking place in Denver, Colo., within roughly 10 miles of the 1999 Columbine High School shooting massacre and last month's Aurora shootings.
"Since the recent tragedies in Aurora, Colorado and Oak Creek, Wisconsin, a real national conversation has begun, bringing together Americans from across the nation and across the political spectrum, to call for real solutions -- solutions that recognize the Second Amendment right to bear arms -- solutions with the only goal of preventing gun violence," reads the petition, which is posted on a new website launched by the Brady Campaign, www.wearebetterthanthis.org.
"It is time our presidential candidates listen to the American public, join the conversation, and provide us with their plans," the petition continues. "As a nation, we know we are better than this. It is time for those seeking our highest office to show that they know it too."
Brady Campaign President Dan Gross said the petition is important because there is "a dramatic disconnect" between what the American public wants and what elected officials are doing about it.
"Our goal with this letter campaign is to lead the American people in closing this disconnect and in holding elected officials accountable," Gross said in a statement. "Until we do that, nothing will change. Once we do, everything will."
Anne Bell, spokeswoman for PBS NewsHour, said that anyone is welcome to make suggestions to Lehrer on what he should ask in the debate, but that Lehrer will make the final call.
"As in years past, in the end it will be Jim, and Jim alone, who comes up with the questions for the debate," Bell said.