USA Today, July 24, 2012

    Colorado, Hollywood should team up on gun control
    Both the state and Warner Bros. are at the center of a dilemma. Together,
    they might find a way to deal with this plague.

    By Bruce Kluger

    Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper was not seated in the darkened movie theatre in
    Aurora, Colo., on Friday night when a madman sprayed gunfire at a horrified crowd.
    But he dodged a bullet of his own two days later. Appearing on the ABC’s This
    Week, he was asked by host George Stephanopoulos if the violent tragedy called
    for a reconsideration of his state’s complicated gun laws.

    “This wasn’t a Colorado problem, this is a human problem,” Hickenlooper said
    smoothly, averting a conversation about guns and talking instead about the killer’s
    “diabolical” nature. Aurora Mayor Steve Hogan, who was seated next to
    Hickenlooper for the interview, merely echoed the governor’s spin.

    One thousand miles west,
    Warner Bros. studios was
    doing a bit of its own
    ducking and weaving.
    Misfortune had dealt the
    studio a bad hand: its
    Batman blockbuster, The
    Dark Knight Rises, was
    playing in the Aurora
    theater where the fiery
    assault took place. After
    scrambling for the
    appropriate response, the
    studio issued a statement
    that expressed
    condolences to the victims of the shooting and their loved ones. Warner then went
    the extra yard, canceling the gala Paris premiere of the movie. But nowhere in its
    public actions did the studio address the elephant in the room: the inescapable link
    between movie and real-life violence.

    As the nation once again struggles to wring some clarity from yet another blood-
    soaked story, it strikes me that two such formidable institutions, a state government
    and a major motion picture studio, might join forces to find a solution to one of
    America’s most pressing plagues. Why not use Colorado—which now bears the
    infamy of both the Aurora and Columbine massacres—as a testing ground for
    dramatic new gun laws? And why not rely on Warner Bros.—no stranger to the
    machinery of public relations—to support such an effort?

    Since the 1999 Columbine high school shootings, in which two gunmen killed 13
    people, including themselves, Colorado has made some placating efforts to curb
    gun violence. The state has tightened the regulations that govern gun show sales
    and banned third-party purchases of weapons for those who are not legally
    qualified to own them. But overall, the state remains largely in thrall to the NRA, with
    relatively loose laws regarding the issuance of gun permits and, just this year, a
    court ruling that allows for concealed weapons to be carried on the campus of the
    University of Colorado.

    James Holmes, the lone suspect in the Aurora theater shootings, was able to
    purchase two pistols, one shotgun and an AR-15 assault weapon from local stores,
    and more than 6,000 rounds of ammunition online.

    So why not try something revolutionary by introducing dramatic new laws in
    Colorado that would roll back pro-gun legislation enacted in recent years, while
    further tightening the restrictive ones already on the books. The new laws would
    exist for a set period of time—say, a year or two—to determine if such a legislative
    package could effectively decrease gun violence in the state?

    We’ve already seen the success of such legislation on the national level with the
    Federal Assaults Weapons Act of 1994, which according the Brady Center to
    Prevent Gun Violence, resulted in a 66% drop over a decade in crimes committed
    with the prohibited weapons. That law expired in 2004, but was never renewed by
    Congress due to pressure from gun enthusiasts.

    Granted, such a draconian measure sounds implausible, especially considering the
    fierce pro-gun lobby that pulls together at times like these, barricading itself behind
    defensive and inflammatory rhetoric. But the fact is, an across-the-board, no-
    compromise anti-gun strategy has never been tried before in any state. And with
    Colorado having now become ground zero for two of the most deadly incidents of
    random gun violence in the history of the nation, doesn’t it arguably fall upon the
    state to take the lead in the matter?

    As for the inevitable backlash such a plan would trigger from the NRA, the response
    would be simple: You’ve had your way long enough. It’s time to try something new.

    And that’s where Warner Bros. could lend a hand. As all moviegoers know, the film
    industry and its distribution arms are facile at delivering whatever message it wants
    to get across—from the coming attractions and PSAs that regularly precede the
    feature films, to the heartfelt holiday-time appeals that have us digging into our
    pockets for spare change to donate to sick children. Surely Warner could mount a
    similar campaign on behalf of a “Project Aurora,” which would beseech moviegoers
    to contact state officials in Colorado and ask them to support such sweeping
    legislation. Given its close ties to a vast community of A-list actors, actresses and
    directors, the campaign could even be star-studded. And having already revealed
    plans to donate some of its proceeds to Aurora victims, this would seem like a
    logical next step for Warner.

    Could such an effort ever really happen? Not likely. The issue is too loaded and
    those forces that oppose gun restrictions of any kind are virtually unbudgeable.
    And yet the point remains, the state of Colorado and Warner Bros. studio have
    unwittingly found themselves in a historic crucible, and the search for a workable
    solution to the Aurora tragedy—and all tragedies like it—has only served to raise
    the temperature of the nation’s anger.

    From desperation come desperate measures. Isn’t it time to think outside the box?