Colorado shooting highlights barriers to tough gun control: Obama and Romney
Early in their political careers, Barack Obama and Mitt Romney advocated tougher gun laws. But as President, Obama has been largely silent on the issue, and Romney has embraced gun rights.
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As a state senator in Illinois, Obama supported banning all forms of semiautomatic weapons and limiting handgun purchases to one per month. In the US Senate, he voted against protecting firearms makers and dealers from lawsuits over misuse of their products by others. Running for president in 2008, Obama called for a return to the federal ban on assault weapons, which began during the Clinton administration but had expired under George Bush.
Since then, he has been largely silent on the issue.
After the 2011 mass shooting in Arizona that nearly took the life of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, Obama seemed to raise the issue of guns and their easy access, calling for "a new discussion of how we can keep America safe for all our people."
But he’s failed to follow up, critics say.
Romney has moved even farther toward gun rights, according to the AP tally.
Running unsuccessfully against US Sen. Edward Kennedy in 1994, he supported a ban on assault weapons. Running for governor of Massachusetts in 2002, he vowed to protect the state's "tough gun laws." After he’d won that election, he signed a ban on assault weapons.
But then, preparing his first run for the presidency in 2006, he became a “lifetime member” of the NRA. (“Lifetime” in this case starting well into middle age.)
Speaking at the NRA’s national convention earlier this year, he said: “We need a president who will enforce current laws, not create new ones that only serve to burden lawful gun owners. President Obama has not. I will."
Will the movie theater rampage that killed 12 people and wounded 58 in Aurora, Colo., the other night make a difference in any of this? It seems unlikely.
"There are strong forces in American politics, led by the National Rifle Association, that have prevented any real changes in gun control laws in years," Cal Jillson, a political analyst at Southern Methodist University in Texas, told Reuters. "In the short term, this incident will give some liberal Democrats an opportunity to talk about gun control in an environment where people are listening, but in the long term it doesn't change anything.”