Aurora survivor asks candidates to talk gun control in Denver debate

Stephen Barton, a shooting victim in the Aurora massacre in July, appears in a new ad putting pressure on President Obama and Mitt Romney to address guns in their debate this Wednesday in Denver. As Politico points out, the debate will happen just nine miles from the shooting.

“This past summer in a movie theater in Colorado I was shot, shot in the face and neck,” Barton says. “But I was lucky. 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?”

Barton isn’t the first shooting victim to turn gun control advocate—Collin Goddard, who was shot in Virginia Tech in 2007, became an outspoken advocate for universal background checks. Barton’s approach, however, seems to put the onus for a specific plan on the presidential candidates rather than backing one policy fix in particular.

“We’re demanding a plan from both [candidates] in advance of a presidential election, and presidential debate in Denver,” Barton said on CNN this morning, “and asking that they put forth something specific, aside from just platitudes and moments of silence, and actually get down to the business of preventing gun violence.”

Barton’s ad for the Demand A Plan campaign is in conjunction with Mayors Against Illegal Guns, a group led by Michael Bloomberg.

The ad highlights the sad truth that without being pressured by people like Barton and Bloomberg, Obama and Romney will almost definitely spend all of Wednesday’s debate bickering over Mitt’s taxes and an effort to spin the Libyan embassy attack to make Obama appear weak on foreign policy, no matter how divorced this may be from reality.

While we’re on the subject of topics the candidates should discuss but almost definitely won’t: The Arctic ice caps are now scheduled to be completely gone by 2016. This is way faster than anyone thought and should be cause for not only alarm but specific climate change policies. There’s almost no chance of this coming up Wednesday, which is completely insane.

Addressing the argument that guns make all of society safer when everyone is armed, Collin Goddard said, “If that were true, then the United States of America, the country with one gun for every human, would already be the safest place in the world. And we’re quite the opposite.” So far, we’ve been relatively safe from the negative impacts of climate change—we had Katrina and this summer’s drought, but been spared any major tsunamis or real food shortages. By 2016 that might also change. There are way bigger things at stake in this debate than Mitt’s taxes. Watch the ad below.