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July 23, 2012

Gov. says Colorado rallying after massacre


Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper. (UPI/Trevor Brown Jr.)

WASHINGTON (UPI) -- The governor of Colorado said the people of his state were already beginning the healing process after last week's deadly movie shootings in Aurora.

Gov. John Hickenlooper told the Sunday television talk shows in the United States he was encouraged by the rapid response to the shooting spree and the resilience folks were showing in the immediate aftermath of the slayings.

"The West is always known for that kind of strength of character and the comeback and rebound, but it is something that I felt was an American quality," Hickenlooper said on CNN's "State of the Union."

Hickenlooper said the daughter of his chief of staff organized a group of friends Saturday to go see the new Batman movie, which was showing when former college student James Holmes allegedly opened fire Friday, killing a dozen people and wounding more than 50. The governor said the act was a symbol of Coloradans refusal to be cowed by someone he considered to be a domestic terrorist.

"I think that is part of what we have to do as a country is come together and lift up the victims and their families, but at the same time say, this country is defined by freedom and the pursuit of happiness, and we're not going to let this guy ruin our lives," Hickenlooper told ABC's "This Week."

Hickenlooper, a Democrat, said President Obama had also been quick to offer whatever support the federal government could supply, and was circumspect in his plans to visit Aurora. The governor said Obama insisted he did not want to be a distraction; however folks in the Denver suburb expressed support for the visit.

"I think it was unanimous that the president could come, it would be a very, very positive thing for this community, for especially the families of the victims," Hickenlooper told CNN.

Obama's visit was unlikely to be the only election-year angle to the tragedy. Holmes seeming ability to assemble an arsenal of weapons and ammunition through the Internet was raising the issue of gun control in the U.S. media.

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said on CBS' "Face the Nation" Obama, Congress and Republican candidate Mitt Romney were skirting the issue rather than potentially raise the ire of firearms advocates. "Leadership is leading from the front, not doing a survey, finding out what the people want and then doing it," the mayor said. "What do they stand for and why aren't they standing up?"

Hickenlooper said he did not believe stricter gun laws would have prevented a determined and intelligent person such as Holmes, who will make his first court appearance on Monday.

"If he couldn't have gotten access to the guns, what kind of bomb would he have manufactured?" he said on NBC's "Meet the Press." We are in an information age where there's access to all kinds of information."

A better tack, Hickenlooper said, was closer monitoring of people who are developing psychiatric problems and getting help for them before they go off the deep end. "This is really a human issue," he told CNN. "people around him obviously had no idea that this was something that he was capable of."

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