After Aurora Shooting, Will Gun Control Become Election Issue?

Yahoo Contributor Network

There are conflicting reports Friday as to whether or not the deadly killings of 12 people in a movie theater in Aurora, Colo., will become an election-year issue regarding gun control. CBS News reports several political figures spoke out on tightening gun control laws. Reuters states gun laws will not likely change as the general election is less than four months away and gun control is a toxic subject that strengthens a conservative base.

* New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, quoted in the CBS article, said in a Friday morning radio interview that both presidential candidates should "stand up and tell us what they are going to do about [gun control], because this is obviously a major problem across the country."

* The Reuters piece claims Americans are less concerned about gun control in general. Gallup polls from 1990 to 2010 show Americans who favor "more strict" gun control laws fell from 78 percent to 44 percent in 20 years. These numbers fell despite mass shootings in Colorado in 1999 and at Virginia Tech University in 2007.

* Both presidential candidates have yet to address the issue of gun control, instead offering condolences to the families of the victims. Mitt Romney spoke for just four minutes from New Hampshire. According to the Los Angeles Times, the GOP candidate said, "This is a time for each of us to look into our hearts and remember how much we love one another and how much we love and how much we care for our great country. There's so much love and goodness in the heart of America."

* President Barack Obama canceled campaign stops in Florida and returned to Washington. He spoke for less than eight minutes at a stop in Fort Myers, Fla. Towards the end of his speech, the president said, "I am grateful to all of you, and I hope that as a consequence of today's events, as you leave here, you spend a little time thinking about the incredible blessings that God has given us."

* Flags were lowered to half-staff to memorialize the victims of the shooting. Obama later said "we must stand together" during the "challenging hours and days to come."

* The Associated Press states both Obama and Romney canceled further appearances, scaled back advertising scheduled to air in Colorado and pulled back surrogates who were going to speak to various media outlets. At least for now, the increasingly competitive fight for the presidency is on hold.

* Gun control may become an issue eventually. The Religion News Service reports Kathryn Mary Lohre, president of the National Council of Churches, said it's time for leaders to "seek policies that will foster greater peace in our communities...."

* Rep. Colleen Hanabusa, D-Hawaii, had a different take on the tragedy. In her statement, she called for ways to end violence before it starts. "The events in Colorado again remind us of our need to keep our communities safe by finding a way to intercede in these cycles of violence before they destroy lives."

William Browning is a research librarian specializing in U.S. politics.

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