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Shooting Victims Call Out Presidential Candidates on Gun Violence

Common Dreams staff

"I was lucky," says shooting victim Scott Barton. "In the next four years, 48,000 Americans won’t be so lucky, because they’ll be murdered with guns in the next president’s term, enough to fill over 200 theaters. So when you watch the presidential debates, ask yourself, ‘Who has a plan to stop gun violence?’

Ahead of the first presidential debate this week between President Obama and GOP challenger Mitt Romney, victims of recent mass shootings on Monday called on the candidates to address what both seem so reluctant to confront: the fact that nearly 12,000 Americans on average are killed by gun violence each and every year in the United States.

In partnership with Mayors Against Illegal Guns, survivors of recent massacres—including  those in Aurora, Tuscon and Virginia Tech—have come together under the banner of a new group called, Demand A Plan, which aims to propel the issue of gun violence back into the national debate.

The new group plans to air a provocative new ad during the nationally televised debate on Wednesday featuring Scott Barton, who was shot in the face and neck during the movie theater shooting in Aurora, Colorado that left 12 other people dead.

“I never thought I’d be a shooting victim until I was bleeding on a floor in Aurora,” said Barton in a statement. “I was lucky, but I’ve seen what happens when dangerous people get their hands on guns. And I think it’s fair to ask the men who want to lead the country to get past the platitudes and give us a serious plan to address a serious problem.”

Watch the ad:

“When the candidates walk into that auditorium, I hope they’ll be thinking about another theater a few miles away where a dozen people were murdered, and dozens more were injured like Stephen,” said Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, who co-chairs Mayors Against Illegal Guns. “He deserves a straight answer about what the candidates plan to do about it.”

“The brave young man in this ad, and so many other Americans whose lives have been shattered by gun violence, deserve to hear the candidates’ plans to prevent gun violence,” Mayors Against Illegal Guns co-chair Thomas M. Menino said. “The moment of silence from our national leaders has lasted too long. It’s time for real action to prevent the 34 murders that happen every day because of gun violence.”

And, as ThinkProgress notes, the shooting in Aurora was only the most dramatic shooting in a year that has seen trend of gun violence continue unabated nationwide:

Since the Aurora shooting on July 20, six people were shot to death in a Sikh temple in Wisconsin, three were killed in a shooting near Texas A&M University, and one was killed outside the Empire State Building. Meanwhile, Chicago has suffered prolonged gun violence that has claimed 152 lives in two months, many of them teenagers. And on Friday, a gunman in Minneapolis killed 5 people and injured 3 more in what the police chief called “a hellish scene” — yet attracted sparse attention from national media outlets zeroed in on the presidential race.

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