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Bowing low to the People of the Gun

People gather outside Century 16 movie theatre AurorColo. scene mass shooting early July 20.  |   Karl Gehring~Denver

People gather outside the Century 16 movie theatre in Aurora, Colo., at the scene of a mass shooting early July 20. | Karl Gehring~Denver Post via AP

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Updated: August 31, 2012 6:08AM

A semiautomatic assault rifle, anyone? How about a few thousand rounds of ammo? On July 20, those weapons of choice killed 12 innocents at the Century 16 Theatre in Aurora, Colo.

The shooter legally bought an AR-15 assault rifle, three other guns and thousands of rounds of ammunition, according to police. In America, acquiring a lethal assault rifle is almost as easy as picking up a buttered popcorn at the movies.

The communities of Aurora, Columbine, Virginia Tech, Northern Illinois University and Chicago’s South and West sides know that.

The families of thousands of murdered and injured souls get it. All those left behind, forever transformed, see it.

Why don’t our politicians?

The minute the grim news blasted out of Colorado, our “leaders” started scrambling, running away from the message seared into every lethal bullet — these guns must go.

After every gun rampage, with every street shooting, the pols slip into see-no-evil mode. First, claim respect for the victims. Then, bleat: It’s not the time or place. We already have plenty of gun restrictions, they posture.

It starts at the top. President Barack Obama and his Republican challenger, Mitt Romney, have been missing in action for years.

In 2008, presidential candidate Obama pledged to revive the federal ban on assault weapons. It never happened.

While governor of Massachusetts, Romney signed an assault weapons ban into law. Now he advocates for Second Amendment rights.

Both sides of the political aisle avert their eyes from the ongoing slaughter. They are terrified of the People of the Gun, particularly in election swing states such as Pennsylvania and Virginia.

And they lust for their money. During the 2010 election cycle, the NRA spent more than $7.2 million advocating for or against federal political candidates, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

In 1994, liberal U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer led the charge for the assault weapons ban; it expired 10 years later.

Today, the Democratic Senate leader says there isn’t much hope for tighter gun laws, Bloomberg News reports. After Aurora, Schumer was quoted as saying: “We see the power of the NRA around here.”

Michael Bloomberg is a rare and gratifying exception. The New York City mayor has been crusading against guns since 2006. Last week, Bloomberg hit the airwaves and editorial pages with a call for action: “12,000 innocent people [are] killed each year with guns, many of them possessed illegally,” he wrote in a July 25 op-ed in the New York Daily News. “During the next president’s term, if we do nothing, 48,000 people will be murdered with guns — nearly as many Americans who were killed during a decade of fighting in Vietnam.”

“Yet,” Bloomberg bemoaned, “neither presidential candidate has offered a plan to lower the death toll . . .”

They won’t. Olympic mania is here, and they’re back to attacking each other on the campaign trail.

The People of the Gun win, once again.

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