Colorado theater shooting: Where does Obama stand on gun control?


US President Barack Obama pauses as he speaks on the shootings in Aurora, Colorado at what was scheduled originally as a campaign event at Harborside Event Center July 20, 2012 in Fort Myers, Florida. "Such violence, such evil, is senseless. But while we will never know fully what causes somebody to take the live of another, we do know what makes life worth living," he told a somber crowd in Florida.



In response to the mass shooting in a Colorado movie theater screening "The Dark Knight Rises," which claimed 12 lives and left 50 people wounded, President Barack Obama released a statement expressing shock and grief.

Obama said, "Federal and local law enforcement are still responding, and my Administration will do everything that we can to support the people of Aurora in this extraordinarily difficult time. We are committed to bringing whoever was responsible to justice, ensuring the safety of our people, and caring for those who have been wounded," according to The Atlantic.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, while giving an interview earlier today, called upon Obama and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney to offer more than "soothing words," saying, "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," according to CBS News.

More on GlobalPost: Mass shooting at Colorado Batman premiere: Suspect named as local man James Holmes (VIDEO)

Bloomberg said, "No matter where you stand on the Second Amendment, no matter where you stand on guns, we have a right to hear from both of them concretely, not just in generalities - specifically what are they going to do about guns?"

So what is Obama's stance on gun control?

The White House said on Friday that the shootings had not changed Obama's position on gun-control laws. White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said, "the president believes we need to take common-sense measures that protect the Second Amendment rights of Americans while ensuring that those who should not have guns under existing laws do not get them," according to The Washington Times.

"We're making progress in that regard in terms of improving the volume and quality of information on background checks," said Carney.

During the 2008 presidential election, the National Rifle Association spent millions trying to make the case that Obama would take away people's guns. According to The Los Angeles Times, the website's headline read, "Obama would be the most anti-gun president in American history."

After he won the election, gun and ammunition sales soared, but the feared anti-gun legislation never materialized, said The LA Times.

More on GlobalPost: Colorado Batman premiere shooting: Does Mitt Romney support gun control?

So far, in the 2012 campaign, Obama has remained largely silent on the issue, besides promising to develop new steps on gun safety in response to the assassination attempt against former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords last January, the Associated Press noted.

The Obama campaign's re-election website makes no mention of gun control.

Last November, the AP said, "Obama's history in support of strict gun control measures prior to becoming president makes it difficult for him to claim he's a Second Amendment champion, even though he signed a bill allowing people to take loaded guns into national parks."

"Gun control is a fight that the administration is not willing to pick. They're not likely to win it," Harry Wilson, the author of a book on gun politics and director of the Institute for Policy and Opinion Research told the AP. "They certainly would not win it in Congress, and it's not likely to be a winner at the polls. ... It comes down to one pretty simple word: Politics."

More on GlobalPost: James Holmes identified as alleged Batman shooter

Politico noted that Obama has not pushed to reinstate the assault weapons ban, which expired under former President George W. Bush. He also hasn't forced background checks on people buying guns from unlicensed dealers at gun shows. However, the NRA has set aside at least $40 million to defeat Obama and still claims that he would use his second term to curb gun rights.

Gun proponents in the US are also on edge about a UN treaty which is still under negotiation concerning the international import, export and transfer of conventional arms, said Politico. The NRA claimed that the botched operation Fast and Furious, which let guns fall into the hands of Mexico drug lords, was a plan by the Obama administration to push for gun control.

However, Politifact found that "there was no promise from Obama on gun policy, and certainly no dramatic pledge to come for anyone’s firearms."

Here he is addressing a question on gun control in February during a press conference:

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy


See GlobalPost's complete coverage of the Aurora shooting