Columbine dad signs full-page ad on gun control
Associated Press Writer
DENVER – In full-page newspaper advertisements Monday, the father of Columbine High School shooting victim Daniel Mauser urged Colorado Sen. Mark Udall to support a bill to expand criminal background checks at gun shows nationwide.
The Coalition to Stop Gun Violence paid for the ads. They appeared in The Denver Post and the Boulder Camera on the eve of the anniversary of the 1999 shootings at Columbine, when two student gunmen killed 13 people, including Daniel, before killing themselves.
A friend of the gunmen bought three of their weapons at a gun show from a private seller who wasn’t required to conduct background checks, as federally licensed dealers do.
After the shootings, Colorado voters approved a law closing the so-called gun show loophole. Tom Mauser wants Udall to support a bill closing it nationwide. Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., signed on as a co-sponsor of the bill last week.
“On the 11th anniversary of the Columbine tragedy, I urge you to stand with Senator Bennet and the vast majority of Coloradans by working to close the Gun Show Loophole,” the ad said.
Udall’s office said the senator respects Mauser and supported the passage of Colorado’s law.
“Mark has supported efforts to close the gun show loophole in the past, and the only question is whether the Lautenberg bill does that without unintended consequences. He will review the language of the bill carefully and make a decision based on his view of the merits and not in response to pressure from newspaper, radio or television ads,” spokeswoman Tara Trujillo said in a written statement.
Gun-rights advocates oppose the bill and say a small percentage of guns used in crimes come from gun shows.
Mauser said he doesn’t know if expanded background checks would have prevented what happened at Columbine. “But clearly when you allow people who have something evil in mind to simply walk in a gun show without going through a background check, you’re asking for trouble,” Mauser said.
Families of victims of the 2007 shootings at Virginia Tech signed on to a similar ad Monday in the Richmond Times-Dispatch.
While Colorado has closed the gun-show loophole, the states around it haven’t.
Mauser said supporters of the Colorado law didn’t vote against the Second Amendment but for common sense.
“It doesn’t make sense to allow criminals and the mentally deranged to go to a gun show and buy a gun without a criminal background check,” Mauser said.
He said the anniversary of the Columbine shootings would be a quiet day for him, as he and his family visit the cemetery.
“We just wait to get through it. It’s a day we’d rather not have be there, but we have to deal with it,” he said. “It gets a little bit easier every year. It’s something you’re never over. It’s just something you learn to deal with.”
The school is promoting a community day and a memorial run in May to recognize support from the community and to remember victims.
On Thursday and Friday, the Foundation for the Prevention of School Violence is hosting its International School Safety Convention in Denver.