NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – The tragedy of Sandy Hook came on the heels of July’s deadly shooting at a movie theater in Aurora, Colo., that left 12 people dead and dozens of others wounded.
Stephen Barton, one of the survivors of that shooting, happens to live near Newtown, Conn., and is on a mission to make a difference.
He joined The Couch on Wednesday to talk about his position as a gun control advocate.
“We’re going through the same exact series of events after Sandy Hook where we’re asking for action, the American public is asking for action, and we haven’t quite seen that yet.”
The night of the movie theater shooting started as a normal night for Barton and some of his buddies.
“My best friend and I had been bicycling across the country. We knew someone in Aurora, we went to the theater as a fun thing to do as everyone else does…about fifteen minutes into the movie, everything changed. Luckily I was able to escape.”
He was shot with “something like two dozen shotgun pellets” in his chest, neck, face, shoulders and arms. Friday’s news about the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School left him stunned.
“I couldn’t believe it at all. It’s 10 minutes down the road from where I grew up all my life,” he said. “I went from having zero experience with gun violence to these two horrible tragedies in my life. I know people that work at the school.”
Barton is now part of a movement called Demand A Plan (DemandAPlan.com).
“I couldn’t stand by and not be a part of the dialogue about guns,” he said. “I was upset that none of our elected leaders wanted to have this discussion after so many people had been killed.”
Putting an end to tragic shootings and gun violence won’t be easy, Barton admits, but something has to be done.
“It’s really tough to say how we can stop these really horrific mass shootings, but there’s an unacceptable level of violence…34 Americans are killed every day by guns…it comes out to about 12,000 per year,” he said. “That’s more that’s have been killed in Iraq and Afghanistan in the last 12 years.”
One place we can start? Assault weapons.
“There’s a lot of talk about assault weapons and how they don’t belong on our streets,” he said. “I was shot at with an assault weapon. If it hadn’t been for the magazine jamming, I actually don’t think I’d be alive here today.”
Barton is also calling for mandatory background checks for those that wish to own guns.