Early in their political careers, Barack Obama and Mitt Romney
advocated tougher gun laws. But as President, Obama has been largely
silent on the issue, and Romney has embraced gun rights.
There are two major reasons why the Colorado theater shooting
rampage won't bring greater restrictions on the nation's
extraordinary arsenal. They're both running for president: Barack
Obama and Mitt Romney.
Over the years, both men have moved from left to right - liberal
to conservative - on controlling guns in the United States.
In Obama's case, he has stifled any earlier tendency to speak out
on things like restricting the sale of assault rifles in the US. For
Romney, it's been a steady march into the embrace of the all-
powerful National Rifle Association since the time when he ran
unsuccessfully for the US Senate in Massachusetts and declared, "I
don't line up with the NRA."
They're both politicians, and they both can read public opinion
polls. The trend there among voting Americans has been in the same
Gun nation: Inside America's gun-carry culture
For a while after the Columbine High School mass shooting in
Littleton, Colo. in 1999, that seemed not to be the case. "Given a
choice between protecting the rights of gun owners and controlling
gun ownership, two-thirds of Americans now favor restrictions on
ownership of fire arms," the Pew Research Center reported at the
But that didn't last long, and now Gallup and other polling
organizations find steadily growing opposition to stricter gun
control. Since 2001, for example, support for a ban on the
manufacture, sale, or possession of assault rifles has dropped from
59-43 percent, according to Gallup, while opposition to such a ban
has climbed from 39-53 percent.
As a western state with an established gun culture, Colorado
reflects this attitude.
Police report that the weapons possessed by alleged theater
shooter James Holmes - a Smith & Wesson AR-15 assault rifle, a
Remington 12-gauge shotgun, and two .40 caliber Glock handguns - all
had been recently and legally purchased from local gun dealers.
Like most states, Colorado law makes it difficult to deny the
granting of permits allowing gun owners to carry them in a concealed
One reason? The relative political clout of advocacy groups.
The Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, the largest and oldest
of America's gun-control groups, is a fraction of its peak size,
Reuters reports. The center and an affiliated political arm had
revenues of $5.9 million in 2010, the most recent year for which
information is publicly available - down 27 percent in three years. …