Syracuse alum and Aurora theater shooting survivor keynote speaker at â??Guns and Americaâ?? discussion

Stephen Barton, a Syracuse University alum and survivor of the Aurora theater shooting, is the keynote speaker at Syracuse Universityâ??s â??Guns and America: Joining the Conversationâ?? discussion on Tuesday night.

The discussion was held at Hendricks Chapel at Syracuse University from 6:30-8 p.m. You can find highlights of the discussion on Twitter with #SUGunTalk. It is the first in a series of moderated discussions about how these issues intersect in Central New York.

CNYCentralâ??s Matt Mulcahy and Michael Benny anchored the CNYCentral evening news on NBC-3 and CBS-5 news casts live from Hendricks Chapel before the discussion and spoke to Barton.

The discussion panel includes: Scott Armstrong, former lobbyist for the National Rifle Association; Helen Hudson, Syracuse Common Councilor At-Large and past president of Mothers Against Gun Violence; James Knoll, director of the Forensic Psychiatry Fellowship Program at SUNY Upstate Medical University; Langston McKinney, retired Syracuse City Court judge; and Robert Spitzer, chair of the political science department at SUNY-Cortland.

Barton was a commencement speaker at Syracuse University in May. He graduated as a triple major in international relations, economics, and Russian language, literature and culture.

In July, Barton and a friend were on a cross-county bicycle trip. They stopped in Aurora, Colorado, where they went to see the midnight showing of â??The Dark Knight Rises.â?? They were in the theater when a man opened fire.

"There started being the muzzle flash of the gun, which at the time I thought it was fireworks and then I got hit here (in the neck), and then I realized it was something much more serious, and then there was screaming and chaos,â?? Barton told CNYCentral in July.

Barton sustained injuries from shotgun pellets and had minor surgery to remove the pellets from his neck and chest.

Now, Barton is speaking out against gun violence.

Barton works in policy research and victims outreach for Mayor Michael Bloomberg's organization, Mayors Against Illegal Guns. He spoke about gun violence on the steps of New York City Hall after meeting with Bloomberg in October.

Barton appeared in a television ad that ran in select states during the 2012 presidential debates calling on viewers to consider which presidential candidate has "a plan to stop gun violence.â??

The ad was sponsored by Mayors Against Illegal Guns as part of a campaign called Demand a Plan, which encourages visitors to sign a petition demanding that President Obama and Mitt Romney create a plan to end gun violence.

According to, Mayors Against Illegal Guns is partnering with survivors from recent mass shootings, including Aurora, Virginia Tech, and Tucson, to demand change.

After the debates, Barton told The Huffington Post that the candidates, President Obama and Mitt Romney, â??acted as if they had moved on completely" from the Aurora and Columbine High School mass shootings that took place just miles from the Denver debate.

After the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in December, Barton told Huffington Post Live that he grew up just 15 minutes from Newtown.

"I thought we were going to get somewhere after what happened in Aurora," said Barton.