Video: Stephen Barton, Aurora theater shooting victim, stars in gun-control ad

Stephen Barton.jpg
Stephen Barton.
Stephen Barton, 22, never thought his future would include gun-policy work. A recent graduate of Syracuse University, Barton was planning on moving to Russia to teach English on a Fulbright Scholarship this September. That all changed when he was shot in the face on July 20 in the Aurora theater massacre. It's a story he tells in a new ad that hits airwaves today -- urging Barack Obama and Mitt Romney to develop a concrete solution to address gun violence.

Here's the ad.

The advertisement -- which says that 48,000 individuals will be murdered by guns during the next president's term -- demands that Mitt Romney and Barack Obama, who will square off in Denver this week in the first presidential debate, offer real solutions.

"I began to realize I had a unique responsibility and opportunity to talk about gun violence in a way that I hope is compelling," Barton says. "I very quickly came to the conclusion that if I don't do it, how can I expect someone who hasn't gone through this to do the same?"

The advertisement comes from Mayors Against Illegal Guns, which has been very vocal in pushing for better gun policies in the aftermath of the Aurora shooting. The ad, paid for by the United Against Illegal Guns Support Fund, which does fundraising for the coalition, is running nationally on cable and in local Washington D.C. and Colorado markets.

It's a noteworthy effort given that in the immediate aftermath of the shooting, many local elected officials did not speak out for stricter gun policies. And it doesn't seem that any victims or families of the deceased have thus far taken this up gun control a cause in the months since the tragedy the way some did after the Columbine shooting.

Suspect James Holmes allegedly purchased an AR-15 assault rifle, a Remington 870 twelve-gauge shotgun and two forty-caliber Glock handguns -- along with a one hundred-round drum magazine that experts say can shoot fifty to sixty rounds in a minute. Since then, there have been efforts to restrict online ammunition sales, calls to reinstate the assault-weapon ban and campaigns to close loopholes that result in mental health records being unreported to the FBI.

Still, advocates remain unconvinced that the country's national leaders are responding with serious solutions.

"Originally, I was kind of discouraged.... The discourse is very hyper-partisan. It seems like we can't reach any middle ground," Barton says. "I wondered if it would even be worth investing a lot of time and energy in it."

Barton, who was on a cross-country bike trip with a long-time friend when he was shot in Aurora, ultimately decided that it was important to him to try and spread the word and make people aware of the need for better policies.

"[Obama and Romney] can reach a lot of people very easily and quickly," he says. "To not take...any particularly strong stance on this after such a violent summer, it's just an absence of leadership."

He continues, "They've certainly been asked about it and have spoken about the issue in general, vague ways. They've offered platitudes to victims and condolences...but I haven't really heard...how we can address this issue in a realistic and constructive way."

Obama has said that assault rifles don't belong in the hands of civilians. For his part, Romney argues against any new gun policies.

"In the aftermath of Columbine, the response from the White House and Congress was at least not as tepid as this," Barton says, adding, "We accept this level of violence in our society kind of as a necessary price [for Second Amendment rights]."

Continue for more on Barton's experience on July 20.


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9 comments
tdoskey
tdoskey

How many Americans will be murdered by automobiles in the next four years? Aproximately 176,000.

Don Finley
Don Finley

the places which have banned guns also have the most violent crimes, proving that criminals don't obey laws.

Monkey
Monkey

Americans are violent, banning guns don't make Americans less violent. The feds already banned scary guns for 10 years, it didn't do anything except raise the value of those guns, and the Columbine massacre happened right in the middle of that ban by under aged kids. The States and local communities who currently ban guns have higher murder and violent crime rates than ones that don't.  Our record breaking civilian gun sales should illustrate, Americans don't want more gun control, and any politician who pays attention understands that. If you want to live in the land of the free, you have to accept some people will abuse their freedom. The bottom line is populations with training in civic virtue, though armed, do not experience sensational massacres or high crime rates. In fact, armed citizens deter crime. Switzerland is a good example of this. Similarly, America's lawful "gun culture" is peaceful. Sadly, some of its subcultures are not. A true American would never give up their rights to tyrants like Hitler or other gun control activists claiming safety. Do you think Hitler disarmed the Jews to keep them safe? Do you think police disarming a suspect is for the protection of that suspect? Disarming the public should scare people way more than guns, and I believe for most Americans, it does.

Stephen At Half Aspen
Stephen At Half Aspen

Harm another and you swing from a tree. I'd wager that would solve most of the crime issues.

Stephen At Half Aspen
Stephen At Half Aspen

Define "illegal firearms". I've owned shotguns, rifles, handguns, and even an automatic once and all are considered "legal" firearms so what do these gun-control fanatics desire? Are they truly so idiotic to believe that banning firearms would solve the problems of our society? Really????

HistoricalRecords
HistoricalRecords

Who exactly is United Against Illegal Guns Support Foundation?  No website, no facebook, 1.5 mil in assets.  Contact info is Geller & Co. a wealth advisory management boutique.  Hardly sounds like a grassroots effort.  I'd like to know the identity of the funder behind this ad campaign.  There is a youtube video called "Exploitation of Aurora Tragedy For Political Purposes"  that you should look up.  All the research is in the description so you can verify my words yourself.

James Ryan Hamilton
James Ryan Hamilton

It worked for Chicago, which has the most strict gun laws in the nation, we now have no gun violence whatsoever.

Nando Commando
Nando Commando

The ad, and name of the group, is very vague. They're against 'illegal' guns? Ya, me too. What's the goal here?

zappatero
zappatero

"stars" ? wtf, dude? I'm guessing he'd return hole in the throat for this "face time"....

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