Columbine Victim's Dad on Aurora Nome Park Shooting, NRA and More

Police near Aurora Central High School after the November 15 shooting at Nome Park and a photo of Tom Mauser with his late son, Daniel Mauser.
Police near Aurora Central High School after the November 15 shooting at Nome Park and a photo of Tom Mauser with his late son, Daniel Mauser. CBS4 via YouTube/Family photo via Moms Demand Action
When Tom Mauser heard about the November 15 shooting at a park near Aurora Central High School that wounded six teens, his first thoughts were, "Oh, no. Not again. Oh, my God."

Mauser's son Daniel was among the victims of the 1999 attack on Columbine High School — a tragedy thrust into the national spotlight once again last week, when National Public Radio aired recordings of conversations the day after those shootings among leaders of the National Rifle Association, including CEO Wayne LaPierre, who seemed more interested in covering their asses than assessing whether they could be blamed for what happened.

Following his son's death, Mauser became one of America's most passionate advocates for gun-law reform as a boardmember and spokesperson for Colorado Ceasefire. The group's focus is local, and after hearing about the Aurora park shooting, he recalls, "I said to my wife, 'Why Colorado again?'"

At this point, no suspects have been identified in the incident, but late on November 17, the Aurora Police Department released photos of two vehicles seen near the park around the time of the drive-by assault.

While that investigation is ongoing, Mauser continues to endorse legislative efforts to keep guns out of the wrong hands, including House Bill 1298, a new Colorado law that imposes a five-year moratorium against firearms possession by anyone convicted of a violent misdemeanor — a measure tougher than those maintained by the federal government.

Of course, no statute can prevent all crimes like the one near Aurora Central, and Mauser admits that realizing that "can be discouraging, especially at a time like this, when you see the numbers rising. But in the end, to do nothing just invites more trouble. That's the bottom line for me. You can't give up."

As for the November 9 NPR report about the National Rifle Association recordings, Mauser says, "For the most part, it wasn't surprising. But at the same time, it was kind of disgusting to hear that the back-and-forth was really about 'what's best for us.' There was no discussion of, 'What about the loss of life? What about these students and the teacher?' Admittedly, I haven't heard all the recordings, and I'm going to reach out and see if I can, because I want to be fair. But a lot of the discussion seemed to be about, 'If we do this, it will make us look like we're somehow responsible, and clearly we're not.' And why would you even have that discussion if you didn't think there was some tie-in to how you do business?"

Here's the NPR report:
In Mauser's view, the NRA's stance has gotten "much worse" in the two decades-plus since the Columbine shootings. He remembers taking part in a 2000 event with LaPierre in Denver at which "he spoke in favor of background checks. And today, they badmouth background checks."

Moreover, he feels that the increasing number of mass shootings, including ones at schools, has made the NRA and other organizations "even more stubborn. They become more afraid that there are going to be actions and laws passed they don't like, and they feel they need to be even more militant and aggressive in their protection of their Second Amendment rights. All of this has forced them to a more radical stance, where the only thing left for them is to talk about confiscation. And I've never seen a single bill that says all the weapons would be confiscated."

After Columbine, Mauser wrote a letter to Charlton Heston, then the president of the NRA, but never received a response — and the same scenario played out with LaPierre, to whom he personally gave a copy of the missive. He subsequently traveled to NRA headquarters in Fairfax, Virginia, and protested in its parking lot, "but rather than talk to me, they had me arrested." No wonder he thinks "they're coldhearted people."

In regard to the Aurora shooting, APD investigators are seeking the public's assistance in identifying and locating the two vehicles seen below:
click to enlarge Vehicles of interest in the Aurora Nome Park shooting include the Chevy Tahoe and Chrysler 300 seen here. - COURTESY OF THE AURORA POLICE DEPARTMENT
Vehicles of interest in the Aurora Nome Park shooting include the Chevy Tahoe and Chrysler 300 seen here.
Courtesy of the Aurora Police Department
The rides are described as a black Chevrolet Tahoe with chrome door handles, a roof rack and, possibly, a Colorado license plate, and a black Chrysler 300 with dark tint and chrome wheels. Anyone with information about the vehicles and/or their owners or drivers is encouraged to contact Metro Denver Crime Stoppers at 720-913-STOP (7867).
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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts