July 22 (Bloomberg) -- Tragedies like the “act of evil” that claimed 12 lives in a movie theater shooting in Aurora, Colorado, may not be preventable by stricter gun controls, the state’s governor said.
“I’m not sure there is any way in a free society to be able” to stop a deranged individual from assembling a deadly arsenal, Governor John Hickenlooper, a Democrat, said today on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
“If there were no assault weapons available and no this or no that, this guy is going find something, right?” he said. “He’s going to know how to create a bomb.”
Police and FBI agents used a robot yesterday to disarm a tripwire and clear bombs from the apartment of James Holmes, 24, the suspect in a shooting that killed 12 people and wounded 58 in a theater in the Denver suburb of Aurora. The tragedy has reignited debate over gun controls, with advocates urging consideration of tougher laws and stricter enforcement.
“Weapons of war don’t belong on the streets,” Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein, of California, said today on “Fox News Sunday.” “We’ve got to sit down and really come to grips with what is sold to the average person in America.”
Appearing on the same Fox program, Republican Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin said, “I don’t think society can keep sick, demented individuals from obtaining weapons.” He suggested that a “responsible individual” who was armed in the theater might have been able to stop “some of these deaths.”
The shootings occurred at about 12:30 a.m. on July 20 during a showing of the new Batman movie, “The Dark Knight Rises.” The rampage was the deadliest shooting in Colorado since the Columbine High School massacre in April 1999 and the worst mass shooting in the U.S. since November 2009, when 13 people were killed at Fort Hood in Texas.
The shooter opened fire during a lull in the movie after the opening sequence and threw a pair of tear-gas canisters, witnesses said. Authorities seized two .40 caliber pistols, a Glock G22 and a Glock G23; a Smith & Wesson M&P .223 caliber semiautomatic rifle; and a Remington 870 Express Tactical 12-gauge shotgun, said a federal official unauthorized to speak publicly and who requested anonymity.
Investigators found that Holmes began buying the weapons in May at stores in the Aurora region, the official said. The suspect hadn’t committed offenses that would have raised alarms during background checks, the official said.
Hickenlooper said on “State of the Union” that the authorities are still seeking a motive for the attack and are learning more “moment by moment” about the suspect.
Obama to Colorado
President Barack Obama, who flies to Colorado today to meet with victims of the shooting and their families, hasn’t addressed the issue of gun control since the attack. Similarly, Republican challenger Mitt Romney hasn’t commented on the subject. Both men suspended election campaigning after the shooting spree.
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg called on the candidates to speak out and give specifics about “what they are going to do about guns.”
Bloomberg, an advocate of stricter gun controls, is founder and majority owner of Bloomberg News parent Bloomberg LP.
Representative Ed Perlmutter, a Colorado Democrat, said today on CBS’s “Face the Nation” that Congress should reinstate a ban on assault weapons in the U.S. Pointing out that the suspect had enough ammunition “for a small army,” Perlmutter said “there’s something wrong with that.”
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