'No Easy Answer' to Preventing Massacres, Governor Says

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
Kelsey Snell and Alexandra Jaffe
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

In the wake of the movie-theater shooting in Aurora, Colo., that left 12 dead and 58 injured late last week, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper said the accused killer’s access to guns is not a Colorado problem, but a human problem.

When asked about gun-control laws on Sunday in an appearance on ABC’s This Week, Hickenlooper, a Democrat, refocused the question on identifying disturbed individuals, not legal access to guns.

“I’m sure [a conversation about gun control] is going to happen but this wasn’t a Colorado problem, this is a human problem and how we can have such a warped individual and no one around be aware,” he said.

Hickenlooper has called James Holmes, the accused gunman, a terrorist. He said Holmes killed a dozen people and rigged booby-trap bombs in his home to target the first responders after the shooting. That level of dedication to causing harm indicates a plan and state of mind that would have found a way around any laws.

“Even if we didn’t have access to guns, this guy was diabolical,” Hickenlooper said. “He would have found explosives, poisonous gas, he would have found something to cause this terror.”

On CNN’s State of the Union, Hickenlooper said he’s open to considering anything to prevent such massacres, but he has no options immediately in mind.

“You know, we've been looking at the shootings all across the country, and you try to say, ‘How do we preserve our freedoms, right, and all those things that define this country, and yet try to prevent something like this happening?’ Let me tell you, there's no easy answer. There isn’t,” he said.

President Obama will visit Colorado on Sunday and he’s likely to visit some of the victims in the hospital, Hickenlooper said. He praised the president for prudence in deciding to come, revealing that Obama had showed concern that he might be more of a nuisance than a help to the people of Aurora, but that the victims and the Aurora mayor had “unanimously” agreed the president should come.

Hickenlooper himself spent much of Saturday visiting victims at the hospitals, and he said he found the mood to be “buoyant,” a fact he described as an “American quality.” Hickenlooper himself found a silver lining to the tragedy, he said on NBC's Meet the Press.

"One of the real bright lights of this is that, before 9/11, I don't think we could have ever responded to this level of tragedy -- 70 people that had been injured or killed -- and get such efficiency and get everyone working together almost seamlessly," he said.

He also dismissed speculation over the political motives of the shooter, explaining it as an act of terror—not in the political sense, but “for whatever twisted reasons that we can barely even imagine.” He said that the movie theater was clearly a premeditated choice, but that people shouldn’t let fear keep them away.

“He wanted to put fear in people's lives. And for so many of us, you know, movies are one of the places that we find solace and get away from life. You know, it is hot in the summer and the movie theater’s cool, when it’s freezing in the winter, the movie theater’s warm. You get to get outside your daily life. We can't let him take that away from us,” he said on State of the Union.

See all NJ’s Sunday show coverage | Get Sunday show coverage in your inbox