Tea party groups are using the shooting in Aurora, Colo., to drive home their opposition to gun control as a leading Democratic Senator calls for more restrictions.
Many — though by no means all — elected officials and candidates have carefully avoided the issue.
But TheTeaParty.net is asking its supporters to sign a petition demanding lawmakers vote against any potential new gun control measures — and to send the group money to make continued advocacy possible.
“We are not going to let them use a senseless tragedy to advance the political agenda of the left to take guns from law abiding citizens, Todd Ceferatti, the director of TheTeaParty.net, wrote in an email earlier this week. “Tell Washington ‘HANDS OFF MY GUNS’ by signing the petition now.”
Ceferatti has sent out three such emails since James Holmes allegedly opened fire in a Colorado movie theater, killing 12 and wounding dozens of others. More than 54,000 tea partyers have signed the petition.
In a floor speech Friday, Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), author of the House version of the 1994 ban on certain classes of semi-automatic weapons, called for legislation that would ban guns like the AR-15 used in Aurora. The ban expired in 2004.
“Whether it’s in reaction to what happened in the 1980s or 1990s or because of fanaticism or maybe fundraising reasons, it seems that too many on the pro-gun side believe the Second Amendment is as absolute or more absolute than all the other amendments,” Schumer said. “Maybe we can break through the hard ideological lines that have been drawn on this issue.”
Most Congressional Democrats, including Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (Nev.), have remained mum on the issue even after President Barack Obama repeated his call for renewing the 1994 restrictions in a speech to the National Urban League on Wednesday night.
Judson Phillips, founder of Tea Party Nation, another group opposing further gun control legislation, said he was not worried about lawmakers taking action before the elections.
“But when you have a situation like what happened in Aurora, they have to be reminded,” said Phillips. “There are politicians out there that will go squishy on us.”
Other tea party groups, including the Tea Party Patriots, have avoided the issue in an effort to maintain focus on fiscal matters.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., carries a musket on stage as he speaks during the American Conservative Union's Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at National Harbor, Md., on Thursday March 6, 2014.