It has been nearly a month since the devastating Aurora theater shooting that took the lives of 12 and injured more than 50. A little over a week has passed since a gunman -- a former Denver, Colorado resident -- opened fire in Wisconsin killing seven, including himself, and critically injuring three more. And just this week another gunman allegedly killed two and wounded four others at Texas A&M before he was shot to death by police.
However, in the wake of all of this, there has yet to be an substantive discussion of gun laws in Colorado.
Some Colorado officials have spoken out in favor of addressing gun control -- Rep. Ed Perlmutter, who represents Aurora, went on CBS News' "Face the Nation" just two days after the shooting occurred calling to reinstate the assault weapons ban.
"We ought to be taking a look at how this guy was able to accumulate so much ammunition," Perlmutter said. "He had enough ammunition for, like, a small army. There's something wrong about that." When asked why he spoke out so soon, Perlmutter said that although there is some political danger for him in doing so he answered, "This happened in my district, and these questions have to be addressed."
Just four days after the Aurora shooting, Rep. Diane DeGette called on Congress to ban the kinds of high-capacity ammunition magazines that the Aurora shooter used allowing him to shoot about 70 people in roughly two minutes, the Colorado Independent reported. DeGette, like Perlmutter, have been working toward stricter gun control their entire tenures in public office. "Yet here we are, 16 years later, and in the wake of another violent tragedy it's impossible to understand why an ordinary citizen can get a hold of a high-capacity magazine that can fire 100 rounds in 90 seconds," DeGette said in a press release.
Yet many Colorado politicians continue to play it safe, dodge the question entirely or stay mum on the issue.
Gov. John Hickenlooper ducked he question on ABC's "This Week" on whether he should revisit the state's gun laws in the wake of the Aurora massacre. "I'm sure that that is going to happen, but I look at this, this wasn't a Colorado problem, this is a human problem, right?" Hickenloooper said. "You know, I worry that if we got rid of all the guns and certainly we have so many guns in this country, we do have a lot more gun violence than many other countries -- but even if you didn't have access to guns, this guy was diabolical. Right? He would have found explosives, he would have found something else, some sort of poisonous gas, he would have done something to create this horror."
Aurora Mayor Steve Hogan, who appeared with Hickenlooper on the "This Week" segment, also placed blame on the shooter, rather than on the need for tighter gun laws.
Denver Mayor Michael Hancock, although a member of Mayors Against Illegal Guns, has remained mum on gun control since the shooting, according to Reuters. Hancock did release a press statement mostly expressing grief about the shooting, but in terms of having a frank discussion about guns and violence, this is about as close as Hancock has gotten to the issue at hand in his prepared statement, "As we search for reason and cause for this heinous crime, it makes sense to turn to the weapons but we must not forget the man behind the gun."
However, one Denver official is speaking out on the need to discuss gun control -- police chief Robert White. "Gun polices are absolutely critical," White said to Westword. "I certainly value the right to bear arms, but I've yet to figure out the real purpose that certain firearms have. Assault weapons... they have no practical use. You can't use them for hunting. We're not soldiers in a war abroad... I have a lot of questions about assault weapons. What value do they have in our society, in an urban environment? I think they have very little value." Read more of White's sentiments at Westword.
Nationally, it appears unlikely that gun laws will change. Although Sen. Frank Lautenberg has also renewed his push for gun safety legislation and whose bill would limit the availability of high-capacity magazines, a senior Democratic aide told The Huffington Post that the bill is unlikely to go anywhere because of the Senate's busy schedule. "Not this work period," the aide said.
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has called upon President Barack Obama and presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney to detail their plans to tighten gun laws. "You know, soothing words are nice, but maybe it’s time that the two people who want to be President of the United States stand up and tell us what they are going to do about it, because this is obviously a problem across the country," Bloomberg said.
And we just might get a question on the issue of gun control at the October presidential debates in Denver. The Brady Campaign has pressed Jim Lehrer, host of PBS NewsHour and moderator of the debates in Denver, to ask Obama and Romney about gun violence.
Anne Bell, spokeswoman for PBS NewsHour, said that although Lehrer is open to suggestions, it his him alone that makes the final call on what questions are asked. "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.
What do you think? Will this wave of recent gun violence lead to at least a public discussion of guns and violence in America? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.
1981: The Attempted Assassination Of President Ronald Reagan
on March 30, 1981, President Reagan and three others were shot and wounded in an assassination attempt by John Hinckley, Jr. outside the Washington Hilton Hotel in Washington, D.C. Reagan's press secretary, Jim Brady, was shot in the head.
1993: The Brady Handgun Violence Act
The Brady Handgun Violence Act of 1993, signed into law by President Bill Clinton, mandated that federally licensed dealers complete comprehensive background checks on individuals before selling them a gun. The legislation was named for James Brady, who was shot during an attempted assassination of President Ronald Reagan in 1981.
1994: The Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act
The Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1994, instituted a ban on 19 kinds of assault weapons, including Uzis and AK-47s. The crime bill also banned the possession of magazines holding more than ten rounds of ammunition. (An exemption was made for weapons and magazines manufactured prior to the ban.)
2004: Law Banning Magazines Holding More Than Ten Rounds Of Ammunition Expires
In 2004, ten years after it first became law, Congress allowed a provision banning possession of magazines holding more than ten rounds of ammunition to expire through a sunset provision. Brady Campaign President Paul Helmke told HuffPost that the expiration of this provision meant that Rep. Gabby Giffords's alleged shooter was able to fire off 20-plus shots without reloading (under the former law he would have had only ten).
2007: The U.S. Court of Appeals For The District Of Columbia Rules In Favor Of Dick Heller
In 2007 The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled to allow Dick Heller, a licensed District police officer, to keep a handgun in his home in Washington, D.C. Following that ruling, the defendants petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the case.
2008: The NICS Improvement Amendments Act
Following the deadly shooting at Virginia Tech University, Congress passed legislation to require states provide data on mentally unsound individuals to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, with the aim of halting gun purchases by the mentally ill, and others prohibited from possessing firearms. The bill was signed into law by President George W. Bush in January of 2008.
2008: Supreme Court Strikes Down D.C. Handgun Ban As Unconstitutional
In June of 2008, the United States Supreme Court upheld the verdict of a lower court ruling the D.C. handgun ban unconstitutional in the landmark case <em>District of Columbia v. Heller</em>.
Gabrielle Giffords And Trayvon Martin Shootings
Gun control advocates had high hopes that reform efforts would have increased momentum in the wake of two tragic events that rocked the nation. In January of 2011, Jared Loughner opened fire at an event held by Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.), killing six and injuring 13, including the congresswoman. Resulting attempts to push gun control legislation <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/09/trayvon-martin-shooting-gun-debate_n_1413115.html" target="_hplink">proved fruitless</a>, with neither proposal even succeeding in gaining a single GOP co-sponsor. More than a year after that shooting, Florida teenager Trayvon Martin was <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/news/trayvon-martin" target="_hplink">gunned down</a> by George Zimmerman in an event that some believed would bring increased scrutiny on the nation's Stand Your Ground laws. While there has been increasing discussion over the nature of those statutes, lawmakers were <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/09/trayvon-martin-shooting-gun-debate_n_1413115.html" target="_hplink">quick to concede</a> that they had little faith the event would effectively spur gun control legislation, thanks largely to the National Rifle Association's vast lobbying power. Read more <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/09/trayvon-martin-shooting-gun-debate_n_1413115.html" target="_hplink">here</a>:
Colorado Movie Theater Shooting
In July of 2012, a heavily armed gunman <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/20/aurora-shooting-movie-theater-batman_n_1688547.html" target="_hplink">opened fire on theatergoers</a> attending a midnight premiere of the final film of the latest Batman trilogy, killing 12 and wounding scores more. The suspect, James Eagan Holmes, allegedly carried out the act with a number of handguns, as well as an AR-15 assault rifle with a 100-round drum magazine. Some lawmakers used the incident, which took place in a state with some of the laxest gun control laws, to bring forth legislation designed to place increased regulations on access to such weapons, but many observers, citing previous experience, were <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/20/batman-shooting_n_1690547.html" target="_hplink">hesitant to say</a> that they would be able to overcome the power of the National Rifle Association and Washington gun lobby.
Sikh Temple Shooting
On August 5, 2012, white supremacist Wade Michael Page opened fire on a Sikhs gathered at a temple in Oak Creek, Wis., killing six and wounding four more before turning the gun on himself.