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Aurora theater shooting: Victims' families ask Jim Lehrer to raise gun policy at debate

Jessica Watts thumbnail image.jpg
Big photos below.
In their first group message focused on gun policy, family members of those who died in the Aurora theater shooting have come together to urge presidential debate moderator Jim Lehrer to press Barack Obama and Mitt Romney on the topic of firearms violence when the candidates face off in Denver tomorrow. This news comes the same week that a gun-control ad featuring a shooting victim hit Colorado airwaves. Eight families signed the letter, which is on view below.

The letter says in part:

To ignore the problem of gun violence in a state where two of the worst shootings in U.S. history took place -- Aurora and Columbine -- would not only be noticeable by its absence but would slight the memories of our loved ones killed.

The debate takes place at the University of Denver, less than 10 miles from Columbine and only 15 miles from the Aurora Theater where our loved ones were murdered in what was the single worst shooting massacre in American history.

This effort, in partnership with the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, is significant in part because this is the first time that a majority of the twelve families who lost loved ones on July 20 have spoken up specifically about gun policy -- and in some ways echoes the gun control advocacy that emerged from Columbine.

Jessica Watts, aurora theater shooting.JPG
Sam Levin
Jessica Watts, center, at a press conference in August.
"We definitely wanted to see it on a national stage," says Jessica Watts, cousin of Jonathan Blunk, who was killed at the Century 16 Theater. "We think it's important seeing as gun violence continues to be an issue in this country, and we want to know how the next president will handle it."

This push to have gun laws discussed at the high-profile debate is the latest joint effort by many of the grieving families, who in the past two months have come together to speak out about their frustrations with the disbursement of donations.

With this letter, they're attempting to encourage Lehrer, of PBS NewsHour, to take this significant opportunity in Denver to raise an issue very close to them.

A spokeswoman for NewsHour tells us that Lehrer has received many petitions, suggestions and requests for topics and he does not comment beyond his initial announcement about very broad topics. In that message, posted on the Commission on Presidential Debates website, he said he would discuss the economy, health care, the role of government and governing.

But given the location of the debates, it would be a major oversight to ignore gun policy, Watts argues.

"They are very close to two of the most horrific Colorado shootings in history," says Watts, 28, who has gone to every meeting regarding donations and has attended each court date of suspect James Holmes. "We wanted to notify him that this was a very important issue in Colorado."

Continue for more from Watts and the full letter.


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14 comments
Evelyn Maria
Evelyn Maria

Yes to ignore the issue here would be disrespectful and fata

Stephen At Half Aspen
Stephen At Half Aspen

Want to stop thugs from killing people? Hang the ones that do. Dangle their lifeless corpse above their puddle of piss from the courthouse tree for all to see. It won't take long before you'd see violent crimes drop in number. What? Don't have the balls for it? Yet you've got the balls to think you can take a rifle from someone because you think it's scary. Yeah right. Good luck with that.

Natasha Schwertley
Natasha Schwertley

Of course. Our nation obviously has issues in this area that need addressed.

Stephen At Half Aspen
Stephen At Half Aspen

Most of us who've owned and used firearms throughout our life know that the speed and accuracy of these so-called "assault rifles" can easily be surpassed by any number of non-"assault rifles". So, your desire to ban "assault rifles" accomplishes what? Fools.

Patrick Purcell
Patrick Purcell

I think we have bigger fish to fry in America today. Gun control is old and tired. Take away assault rifles and people will just use handguns, shotguns and whatever else one can use to carry out their idea.

Burma Domenico
Burma Domenico

Yes. Denver has been the site of 2 mass murders.

Michael McCarthy
Michael McCarthy

Sure: Why not? And simply ban all US citizens from owning assault weapons.

Monkey
Monkey

Why don't people mention Columbine happened during the federal "assault weapons" ban? Did everyone forget we already tried banning scary looking guns and it didn't do anything? The Aurora theatre was a "gun free zone" , did that prevent anything? I hope the victims find peace, but wasting time blaming inanimate objects will only prevent them from recovery.

ImmenseTuna
ImmenseTuna

I get so tired of the politicization of such tragedies. I grow even more tired of Brady using tragedies to advance their unconstitutional agendas. If even one law abiding armed citizen had been in that theater today things may have come out very different. They may not have but I'll take my chances with the good guys being armed.

IcePick
IcePick

 @Monkey It's not the gun, it's the idiots who feel some need to own one that cause the problem.  Without guns there would be no gun violence and very few people die of knife wounds.  The NRA controls the issue and the politicians are afraid to stand up to them.

 

Given the phallic nature of guns I can only imagine the driving force for so many male humans to own one must be the result of their feeling inadequate about the size of their penis.  There is NO reason any law abiding citizen needs an assault rifle, or a magazine.  

 

 

IcePick
IcePick

 @ImmenseTuna Your suggestion that we should all have guns is absurd, I have a big penis and need no gun.  I don't live in fear of the extremely rare and unlikely events like you.

 

 

Monkey
Monkey

 @IcePick  Anyone who thinks they can get rid of guns, or believe Americans should only have what they need, isn't very intelligent. If we banned things we don't need, we would ban you.

orson
orson

 @IcePick  "I have a big penis and need no gun."  What a stupid, idiotic thing to say.  Are you implying that the armed soldiers in the u.s. military defending your freedom have small penises?  The law enforcement officers sworn to protect your helpless life, they must have small dicks too?  Remember this, only law abiding citizens are disarmed as a result of gun bans.  Criminals don't care about laws and will get whatever guns they need on the black market.

Monkey
Monkey

 @IcePickThe reason you want to ban guns is because you live in fear of extremely rare and unlikely events.

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