Michael Hancock: I wouldn't use Aurora shootings to push gun control
Since James Holmes purchased an AR-15 assault rifle and shot twelve people dead in an Aurora movie theater, we've asked different local officials if they think stricter gun control laws could help prevent this kind of tragedy in the future. Recently, Denver mayor Michael Hancock told us that he would not use the mass shooting to push gun policy changes.
In the immediate aftermath of the shooting, Hancock declined to speak out on gun control, offering only a general statement via his spokeswoman. His statement included this: "It makes sense to turn to the weapons but we must not forget the man behind the gun."
In the days following the tragedy that made national headlines, it was common for Colorado officials to avoid specific policy pushes before grieving families could bury their loved ones. But in the weeks since the Aurora shooting, Representatives Ed Perlmutter and Diana DeGette have both proposed policy changes, and a Mayors Against Illegal Guns, a national coalition, has launched a television ad in Denver, calling on President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney to offer a concrete solution to gun violence.
Sam Levin Mayor Michael Hancock and Police Chief Robert White marching together on Saturday.
Hancock is part of that coalition -- but, in an interview over the weekend, he said he does not agree with that kind of policy push on the heels of the July 20 attack.
"You know, that tragedy in Aurora, I would not use -- and the reason why I did not speak out about it -- I wouldn't use it as a bully pulpit for political [reach]," Hancock said when asked if he supports the coalition's ad campaign. "That suspect obtained those weapons legally. I certainly will stand firm against illegal guns.... The reality is this: If we want to talk about how we avoid situations like Aurora, let's go to the heart of the problem and not the symptoms."
We spoke to the mayor at a Peace March on Saturday focused on gang violence. In a speech at the rally, he said the problems of violence in Denver go far beyond questions of gun control.
"Obviously, we don't want our young people to be carrying weapons. There's no excuse for them to be carrying weapons -- certainly, illegal gun possession," Hancock said. "You can tell from my message today that I really believe this is much bigger than just gun control.... This is about individuals who have low sense of worth and purpose, where they can engage in activity that's going to put them behind bars potentially for the rest of their lives or could end someone else's life indiscriminately. So I think it's much deeper. I think it's about families, it's about communities, it's about self-worth, and we've still got to stay aggressive on the issues of gun control."
About suspect James Holmes, Hancock said, "What you saw was the manifestation of some problems that went unaddressed.... We're seeing now, as the stories are becoming known, that people knew he had psychological...psychiatric problems, and quite frankly, they didn't respond appropriately and give him the help as well as to make sure...we prevented this kind of violence."
Page down to read more from our interview with Mayor Michael Hancock.