Truth Tracker: Political Ad References Aurora Theater Shooting

'Mayors Against Illegal Guns' Highlight Tucson & Aurora Shootings In Ad Calling For Presidential Action

Leading up to the November election, 7NEWS and will check the accuracy of political ads.

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A new political ad attacking both President Obama and Republican candidate Mitt Romney includes a reference to the Aurora movie theater tragedy.

The ad, paid for by Mayors Against Illegal Guns, uses the recent tragedies to get its message across. It includes survivors of the 2011 Tucson shooting that killed six and injured 13, including Congresswoman Gabriel Giffords, as well as a reference to last month's Aurora theater shooting that killed 12 and injured 58.

The ad does not support either candidate.

(Watch the ad:

About 18 seconds into the ad, there is a reference to the Aurora tragedy.

AD: "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."


The statistic claiming about 48,000 Americans killed over four years is true, based on information provided by the Centers for Disease Control.

2009 is the most recent year when statistics are available. According to the CDC, 11,493 homicides were connected to firearms. When added over four years, it's close to 48,000 deaths.

Mayors Against Illegal Guns is co-chaired by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg. 7NEWS spoke with his deputy press secretary, Marc LaVorgna, about the use of the Aurora shooting in the ad.

"What went into using the Aurora reference?" asked 7NEWS reporter Marshall Zelinger.

"We are in a situation where we have 34 Americans being murdered with guns every day," LaVorgna said.

"What went into it was that we're almost 600 days since the Tucson shooting (and) those survivors were told that they would get some... that answers would be provided about what we're going to do to stop this. They got a moment of silence, but then they got inaction. We, so far, have seen the same thing after the Aurora shootings. We got a moment of silence and soothing words of comfort from both Presidential candidates. What we have not gotten from those Presidential candidates is a plan to prevent the ongoing violence that we have in this country," said LaVorgna.

The Tucson shooting to which LaVorgna referred was the January 2011 shooting that killed six and injured 13, including Congresswoman Gabriel Giffords.

"Is it appropriate less than three weeks after the Aurora shooting to make reference to the Aurora shooting?" asked Zelinger.

"Thirty four people being murdered with guns every day. (The) question for those who raise that question to us is, 'How long do you want us to wait?'" said LaVorgna. "Every time there's one of these large incidents that garners more attention than your every day murders in America, people say, 'Well, it's too soon to talk about it.' Well, when are we going to talk about it? People are dying every day. If we had a disease that was projected to kill 48,000 people over the next Presidential term, you would see a lot of action."

The ad starts with three victims of the Tucson shooting.

AD: "I'm a veteran," said Col. Bill Badger, U.S. Army (Ret.)

"A mother," said Pam Simon.

"A teacher," said Patricia Maisch.

"We're survivors of the Tucson shooting. Our leaders gave us a moment of silence then, but they haven’t given us a plan. President Obama, Governor Romney: We demand a plan."

The website for Mayors Against Illegal Guns, (More info: Link) includes the following biographies for the three victims.

Badger is a retired U.S. Army Colonel, a gun owner, hunter, and a registered Republican. Badger was shot in the back of the head by the shooter and fell to the ground. As the shooter reached for his second ammunition clip, Badger grabbed the shooter, hit him in the shoulder to knock him to the ground and put him in a choke hold.

Simon was Giffords' Community Outreach Director. Simon was shot in the chest and hand. Simon recently retired, and prior to working for Giffords, she was a middle school teacher.

Maisch helped disarm the Tucson shooter by grabbing his second magazine clip after he was tackled. Maisch testified before the Senate Crime Subcommittee in support of closing loopholes in the background check system on Nov. 15, 2011.

Ad Sponsored By Illegal Guns Group Highlights Crimes Committed With Legal Guns

7NEWS found the ad a bit misleading, because despite the violence in both crimes, neither involved illegal guns. Both the Aurora and Tucson shooters purchased their guns legally.

LaVorgna said the background check system is full of holes.

"We have a broken system where guns flow into the hands of criminals and dangerous people who should not have them," said LaVorgna.

AD: We need less silence and more courage. Demand A Plan.


Colorado Mayors React To Aurora Reference

Mayors Against Illegal Guns is co-chaired by Bloomberg and Boston Mayor Thomas Menino. According to its website, more than 600 mayors are a part of the coalition. The group is, "committed to working with our fellow mayors to share best practices, develop innovative policies and support legislation at the national, state, and local levels that will help law enforcement target illegal guns."

There are 13 mayors from Colorado listed as coalition members.

-Matthew Appelbaum (Boulder)

-Michael Hancock (Denver)

-Randy Penn (Englewood)

-Majorie Sloan (Golden)

-Carolyn Cutler (Lafayette)

-Bob Murphy (Lakewood)

-Bob Muckle (Louisville)

-Marc Snyder (Manitou Springs)

-Joe Gierlach (Nederland)

-Joyce Downing (Northglenn)

-Don Stephens (Salida)

-Andrew Muckle (Superior)

-Stuart Fraser (Telluride)

7NEWS contacted them all on Wednesday and spoke with six about the Aurora reference.

According to Hancock's spokeswoman Amber Miller, the campaign sent an email, alerting him to the ad late Wednesday afternoon.

"Obviously somebody made a decision that it's a good idea. I would not have used that reference," said Sloan. "The crux of the ad is we need to talk about a solution for what's happening in our country. I'm totally on board with (that)."

Murphy said he was not going to comment since it was the first he heard of the ad and needed time to digest the ad. He said he joined Mayors Against Illegal Guns immediately after the Aurora shooting.

Snyder said he had strong reservations using any massacre on a campaign issue.

Gierlach said he was alerted by email before the ad starting running.

"I can't imagine why anybody would be for illegal guns. I support the organization and I signed on to it. (The) Aurora shooting being high-profile brings awareness to the issue of gun control," said Gierlach.

When asked if he thought the reference to Aurora was appropriate, he said, "Yes."

Northglenn's mayor did not approve of the Aurora reference and was surprised that the ad would not mention a crime that did involve an illegal gun.

"Since it's illegal guns we're talking about here, it's apples and oranges (to the Aurora and Tucson shootings). (It's) still a horrific act, but I think it's inappropriate," said Downing.

Superior's mayor could see both arguments.

"It's not completely inappropriate," said Andrew Muckle. "I'm not sure there's ever a good time for an ad like that."

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