- (Photo: REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque)
Advocates for stricter gun control measures argued Sunday that President Barack Obama has not done enough to lead on the issue amid the recent shooting massacre in an Aurora, Colorado-theater.
"The president has spent the last three years trying to avoid the issue [of gun control] – or if he's facing it, I don't know anybody that's seen him face it," New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, an independent, said on CBS' "Face the Nation."
On Friday, the day of the shooting, White House press secretary Jay Carney said the president will not propose any new policies in light of the massacre.
On ABC's "This Week," Joe Klein, political columnist for Time Magazine, said that the 1994 elections explain why Democrats are reluctant to speak out in favor of gun control measures. Democrats believe, Klein explained, that they lost many seats in that election because of the Federal Assault Weapons Ban, which was passed in 1994 and expired in 2004.
"Democrats have checked out of this debate ever since [the 1994 election], including the president of the United States, and so, there's hasn't been a debate about gun control since then," Klein said.
Former Indiana Senator Evan Bayh, a Democrat who opposes stricter gun control measures, made a similar point on "Fox News Sunday." President Obama is not going to propose new gun control measures, Bayh explained, because there is no chance to pass such a law through Congress.
"These moderate Democrats find themselves in a position of, do they sacrifice themselves for bill that probably won't have much impact, and it means when they lose they won't be able to do anything on healthcare, the environment, all the other issues they care about. There's just not political support for doing anything," Bayh said.
Kirsten Powers, a reporter for The Daily Beast, put a finer point on it by adding that Democrats "cower in fear" of the National Rifle Association.
Bill Kristol, a conservative columnist who supports some stricter gun control laws, disagreed.
"I think the Democrats are being foolish as they are being cowardly," Kristol said, "I think there is more support for some moderate forms of gun control, if they separate it clearly from a desire to take away everyone's handguns or hunting rifles. ... President Obama, on this one, is just unwilling to take a strong stance."
Bayh also suggested that the structure of the presidential election explains why Obama is reluctant to speak out on the issue of gun control because voters in many of the battleground states that will decide the outcome of the race are mostly opposed to stricter gun control laws.
"When you look at Southern Ohio, for example, Northern Florida, Iowa, some of these areas that are going to be swing areas in the presidential election, this is just a very bad issue for Democrats," Bayh said.
Klein also suggested that the violence in movies such as "Batman: The Dark Knight Rises," which was playing where the shooting occurred, contribute to violent acts, but he does not believe restrictions should be placed on violence in movies.
"There is another side to this," Klein said, "the incredible pornographic violence that has crept into our culture in terms of the entertainment business. And that has now gone global. A movie like Batman is a global movie, which is why you're beginning see people get these sort of weird ideas. But you can't legislate entertainment, you can legislate guns."