DENVER — On Friday at the start of a weekend that will focus on the one-year anniversary of last summer’s Aurora theater shooting, victims’ relatives and other gun control proponents will gather at Cherry Creek State Park for a long, solemn memorial that’s also a renewed call for stronger gun control laws.
From noon Friday until 38 minutes past midnight, the exact moment of the theater shooting exactly a year earlier, they’re scheduled to read the names of the victims of last year’s mass shootings along with that of every other person who died as a result of gun violence in the past year.
But Dudley Brown, the director of Rocky Mountain Gun Owners, isn’t about to let that side of the gun control debate — the rally is organized by Mayors Against Illegal Guns, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s group — dominate the weekend’s news coverage.
Earlier this week, he emailed his members asking them to attend a “peaceful ‘counter-rally’” in the park at noon Friday, a move that has outraged some gun control proponents.
“RMGO is the Westboro Baptist Church of gun groups,” said Laura Chapin, a liberal pundit and consultant who does work for a host of gun control groups.
Chapin wasn’t the only person comparing the notoriously combative Second Amendment advocate’s tactics in this case to the Westboro Baptist Church, a group that often protests the funerals of American servicemen and women to express its opposition to gay rights.
“It’s his right to be there,” said Tom Mauser, who’s been a strong proponent of gun control ever since his son, Daniel, was among the victims in the 1999 Columbine High School shooting. “But you’d think he’d do something a bit more positive than that.”
On Thursday, Brown told FOX31 Denver that he’s not the one politicizing the issue.
“We mourn the loss of life as well,” he said in an interview outside his office in Windsor. “If this were a simple memorial, we would have nothing to say except our condolences. But that’s not what this is. This is the advancement of an agenda. We feel like we have to be there.
“They’re walking on the graves of these victims to get to the cameras and microphones to advance gun control. We’re answering it by encouraging gun owners to show up as well. This is a clear case of politicians — Mayor Bloomberg, using the tragedies to advance his gun control agenda and we’re going to answer that every time.”