While the campaigns of President Obama and Mitt Romney took a break from their increasingly vicious fight in the wake of the Batman massacre in Colorado, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg called them out to do more to stop gun violence in America.
“You know, soothing words are nice,” Bloomberg said in a radio interview, “but 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.”
After temporarily pulling television advertising in Colorado, Obama had some soothing words for the nation in his weekly radio and Internet address. He said he hopes everyone takes time this weekend “for prayer and reflection — for the victims of this terrible tragedy, for the people who knew them and loved them, for those who are still struggling to recover.” And that Americans should also think about “all the victims of the less publicized acts of violence that plague our communities on a daily basis. Let us keep all these Americans in our prayers.”
At a previously scheduled rally in Fort Myers, Fla., on Friday, Obama told supporters in Fort Myers that the shootings served as a “reminder that life is very fragile.”
“Our time here is limited and it is precious. And what matters at the end of the day is not the small things, it’s not the trivial things,” he said. “Ultimately, it’s how we choose to treat one another and how we love one another.”
Romney echoed Obama’s call for unity, saying at a previously scheduled event in Bow, N.H., that he joined with the president and first lady in offering condolences for those “whose lives were shattered in a few moments, a few moments of evil in Colorado.”
“The answer is that we can come together. We will show our fellow citizens the good heart of the America we know and love,” Romney said.
But where do the two candidates stand on gun control?
Following the killing of six people and wounding of then-Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in Tucson, Ariz., in 2011, Obama called for a series of steps to “keep those irresponsible, law-breaking few from getting their hands on a gun in the first place.”
Among those steps was a better federal background check system. The administration said Friday that it has indeed improved the amount and quality of information poured into that system, allowing background checks to be more thorough.
But the administration has offered no detailed, public explanation of how it is following up on all of Obama’s previous promises, and it had no comment about any need for new legislation.
“The president believes that we need to take common-sense measures that protect Second Amendment rights of Americans, while ensuring that those who should not have guns under existing law do not get them,” said White House press secretary Jay Carney.
Romney backed some gun control measures when he was governor of Massachusetts. When he challenged Sen. Edward M. Kennedy in 1994 he declared, “I don’t line up with the NRA.” In April, Romney told the National Rifle Association he was a guardian of the Second Amendment.
Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul said the Republican candidate believes that the “best way to prevent gun violence is to vigorously enforce our laws.”