LITTLETON, Colo. – Tom Mauser has been wearing his son, Daniel’s sneakers ever since the Columbine High School mass shooting on April 20, 1999, when Daniel and 13 others were killed.
“These are the shoes that Daniel was wearing on April 20, 1999,” Tom said Wednesday during an interview with FOX31 Denver at the Columbine Memorial in Clement Park.
“And given that Daniel was on the debate team, I thought it was very symbolic that I was now standing in his shoes, doing the debate on this whole issue,” said Mauser, now an outspoken advocate for stronger gun control laws.
“Two weeks before the shooting at Columbine, Daniel asked me if I knew there were loopholes in the Brady Bill. Then two weeks later, he was killed by a gun that was bought through one of those loopholes.”
In 2000, Mauser was heartened by Colorado’s passage of Amendment 22, which closed one such loophole by mandating background checks on most firearms purchases made at gun shows.
But, in the wake of another mass shooting, Mauser is encouraging more Coloradans to imagine themselves in his shoes — and to reconsider state and federal gun laws.
“When you’re in this position, you wish more had been done in the lines of prevention,” Mauser said. “But this country is more into punishment than it is prevention.”
Like some Democrats in Congress, Mauser believes it was too easy for the suspected gunman in the Aurora theater shooting to purchase semiautomatic weapons in stores and thousands of bullets online.
“It was a deranged person with a gun,” he said. “Why was it so easy for them to get a gun?”
Mauser believes Congress should renew the ban on assault weapons that stood from 1994 to 2004, and that large ammunition purchases shouldn’t be approved without additional background checks.
“We make it so easy for people who want to mow down a lot of people to get these weapons,” Mauser said. “Especially, we’re talking the magazines. 100-round magazine? People say they need it for self-defense. I haven’t heard of 100 home intruders coming through a door.
“I wish that people who said they have fun with these weapons would think in terms of other people’s consequences and not just their own pleasure.”
Mauser said his voice, however powerful, isn’t enough to affect real change on its own.
“They can’t count on just people like me,” he said. “They have to call on politicians to have a spine and stand up to a very well-funded lobby and change things. They have to say: ‘we are not satisifed with the status quo’.
“We are not satisfied with the status quo.”
Colorado is one of just 10 states where gun-related deaths outnumber auto fatalities; and since Columbine, the number of annual gun deaths has risen, not declined.
“Sadly, in America it seems that the only thing that would change anything would be a horrendous massacre. Because we go through so many of these massacres and nothing changes.
“We are better than this. We are better than to have this same thing happen to us, over and over and over again.”