Gun control ad in Denver pressures Obama and Romney to take a stand

The same day Barack Obama made several campaign stops in Colorado, a national gun control group launched an advertisement in Denver calling on both the president and presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney to put forth a plan to curb gun violence across the country.

The spot, which references the Aurora shootings, hits the Denver market just days after a shooter from Colorado killed six people in a Sikh temple in Wisconsin and a week after Romney campaigned in Jefferson County.

Here's the ad.

The roughly forty-second spot features survivors of the Tucson shooting of 2011 and is a part of the "Demand a Plan" campaign of the Mayors Against Illegal Guns -- which now has thirteen Colorado members. (We spoke to three of them in the immediate aftermath of the Aurora shooting, though Denver Mayor Michael Hancock, the most prominent Colorado member of the group, declined to comment).

Part of the voiceover in the ad says: "President Obama, Governor Romney: We demand a plan. Because 48,000 Americans will be murdered with guns during the next President's term. That's three Aurora shootings every day. We need less silence. And more courage."

The end of the spot notes that it is officially paid for by the Mayors Against Illegal Guns Action Fund and isn't authorized by any candidate or candidate's committee.

The coalition says there are over 30,000 gun deaths in America each year, nearly 12,000 of which are homicides.

Since the Aurora shootings, there have been heated debates nationally and locally about how stricter gun control laws might have prevented this type of mass shooting. In Colorado, Governor John Hickenlooper ducked questions about gun control, though Representative Diana DeGette and Representative Ed Perlmutter have both called for stricter gun control policies.

After the Aurora shootings, President Obama said military weapons don't belong in the hands of civilians, but he didn't call for specific policy changes. Some of the president's advocates locally argue that he could be more agressive. Romney has said he doesn't think we need new gun control laws.

Here's an excerpt from what Obama had to say yesterday about gun violence at the start of his speech Denver -- comments that again avoided policy specifics:

It's been two and a half weeks since I was last here in Colorado. And, well, as many of you know, I was in Aurora to meet those who lost loved ones during that terrible shooting.... Unfortunately, since that time, we've had another tragedy in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, where six members of our community were killed as they entered into a house of worship. And so I think we can all acknowledge, we've got to put an end to this kind of senseless violence, whether it's in Aurora, whether it's in Oak Creek, whether it's in Tucson, whether it's in cities all across America where too many lives are cut short because of senseless violence. This is going to have to stop. And as an American family -- as one American family -- we're going to have to come together and look at all the approaches that we can take to try to bring an end to it.

The ad launched in Denver this week wasn't intentionally timed for Obama's and Romney's campaign stops, but the choice of this television market underscores the importance of Colorado as a key swing state. And given the Aurora tragedy, gun control debates certainly resonate here.

Gun control sign outside Obama's rally yesterday.
Gun control sign outside Obama's rally yesterday.
Sam Levin

This latest ad, which is pushing to make gun policy an important issue in the national race, first aired in Washington D.C. starting August 5th -- during NBC's Olympics coverage. The ad is also airing on CNN, Fox and MSNBC. This week, the Mayors Against Illegal Guns group also started airing the ad in Denver, Tucson and Phoenix.

A spokeswoman for the coalition tells us that the first ad buy in the Denver market, which includes Aurora, funds spots on the local ABC, CBS and Fox affiliates through August 14. But she says the group will continue the campaign through November -- or until Obama and Romney offer concrete plans to address gun violence.

More from our Politics archive: "Photos: Barack Obama talks women's issues, health care in Denver"

Follow Sam Levin on Twitter at @SamTLevin. E-mail the author at

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