Rep. Carolyn McCarthy on Sunday morning disputed the contention that the shooting in the midnight-screening of the "The Dark Knight Rises" would have been averted if more people in the theater had guns.
"It's smokey, it's dark, everyone starts shooting," McCarthy (D-Mineola) said on NBC's "Meet the Press." "Everything would have been a lot worse."
McCarthy, who lost her husband in a 1993 mass shooting on the Long Island Rail Road, ran for Congress as a proponent of more stringent gun control policy. She appeared on the news show alongside Michael Chertoff, former Secretary of Homeland Security during the Bush administration, and William Bratton, the former chief of police for the Los Angeles Police Department.
Bratton agreed with McCarthy, saying, "In this circumstance, [more guns] wouldn't have made a difference."
Bratton added that alleged shooter James Holmes was wearing a variety of "bullet protection materials."
"The ability of a citizen to take that individual down would have been" minimal, Bratton said. He added that if one of Holmes' firearms had not jammed, "the initial officers would have been outgunned."
Police say that Holmes, wearing a ballistics helmet, bulletproof vest, bulletproof leggings, gas mask and gloves, detonated multiple smoke bombs and then opened fire with an AR-15 semiautomatic assault rifle, a Remington 12-gauge shotgun and a .40 caliber Glock handgun, all obtained legally. The massacre at the Aurora, Colo., movie theater left 12 dead and 58 wounded.
Chertoff, noting that Holmes also used explosives and pointing to the ability of individuals to make such explosives in their homes, said the focus should be "people, not the tools," and how law enforcement officials can better detect mental health issues
"We need to understand more about the signs that shows someone becoming deranged or a terrorist," Chertoff said.
McCarthy spoke critically about the National Rifle Association's long-held opposition to stronger gun-control policy and said the public should call for more, and not more relaxed, gun control legislation.
"As horrible as this tragedy was, and is, you have to remember how many people are killed everyday by illegal guns," said McCarthy.
She said the tragic shootings at the Colorado theater brought back painful memories of Colin Ferguson's attack on unsuspecting passengers on the Long Island Rail Road in which her husband, Dennis, was killed and her son, Kevin, was seriously wounded.
"It just brings you back to a place most victims don't want to go to . . . knowing what the families are going to be going through, not only today and tomorrow but the weeks down the road," she said.