President Obama and Mitt Romney will face each other Wednesday in their first presidential debate at University of Denver, just 15 miles from the site of the movie theater shooting in Aurora, Colorado. However, the media’s interest in the largest shooting in the country since Virginia Tech has waned, while both Romney and Obama have backed away from offering any new solutions to deal with the nation’s gun homicide rate, which far outpaces any other developed country in the world.
In an effort to revive the conversation about gun violence, 22-year-old Stephen Barton, who was shot in the face and neck in the Aurora movie theater, appears in an ad that will air in the days leading up to the presidential debate on Wednesday. Barton makes a direct appeal to voters to “demand a plan” from Obama and Romney:
This past summer in a movie theater in Colorado, I was shot. Shot in the face and neck. But I was lucky. In the next four years, 48,000 Americans won’t be so lucky, because they’ll be murdered with guns in the next president’s term, enough to fill over 200 theaters. So when you watch the presidential debates, ask yourself, ‘Who has a plan to stop gun violence?’
The ad, which debuted Monday, is sponsored by Mayors Against Illegal Guns and echoes Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s call for a plan immediately after the theater shooting. Obama spoke out in support of stricter gun control, but later clarified that he would not be introducing any new measures.
Since the Aurora shooting on July 20, six people were shot to death in a Sikh temple in Wisconsin, three were killed in a shooting near Texas A&M University, and one was killed outside the Empire State Building. Meanwhile, Chicago has suffered prolonged gun violence that has claimed 152 lives in two months, many of them teenagers. And on Friday, a gunman in Minneapolis killed 5 people and injured 3 more in what the police chief called “a hellish scene” — yet attracted sparse attention from national media outlets zeroed in on the presidential race.