Politics driving lawsuit, father of Columbine victim says
The father of a teen killed in the 1999 Columbine High School shootings says a legal challenge by Colorado sheriffs of gun control makes a partisan issue out of one that shouldn’t be partisan.
“It’s very disappointing because it seems to me that we should be doing things to keep guns out of the hands of people that shouldn’t have them, and this is something that does that,” said Tom Mauser, whose son Daniel and 12 others were killed by two Columbine students who then took their own lives.
Fifty-five Colorado sheriffs have joined in a lawsuit challenging bills passed in Colorado this year to impose universal background checks on gun transactions and limit gun magazines to 15 rounds.
Mauser, who has become an outspoken advocate of stricter gun controls, said most of those sheriffs are Republicans from rural areas.
“I think part of it is it’s become a very partisan issue and a lot of pressure was put on these sheriffs to do this, obviously from the gun lobby,” he said.
In fact, polls show about 84 percent support for background checks in Colorado, he said.
“When you have those kinds of numbers you’re getting a lot of support all over the board, all across the state, and from both parties,” he said.
He said he thinks a lot of Coloradans have expressed deep concern, after further mass shootings, over large-capacity magazines, and state lawmakers responded.
“I can’t understand why (the sheriffs) are not more supportive of trying to at least give people who are in these terrible mass shootings more of a chance,” he said. “When somebody has a 30- or 100-round magazine you don’t have much of a chance.”
Mauser said someone can get to 30 rounds with two 15-round magazines, but needs to spend a few seconds switching between them. In the 2011 shootings of then-Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and others in Tucson, a few seconds was enough to allow the shooter to be stopped, Mauser said.
Mauser said he’s heard the contention that the new laws criminalize law-abiding citizens.
“No they don’t. If you are a law-abiding citizen you can pass the background check, you can make the purchase,” he said.
He said Coloradans in 2000 voted overwhelmingly to close a loophole under which background checks at gun shows were required for those buying from licensed dealers but not private sellers. This year’s bill simply extended those background checks beyond gun shows, he said.
“It really just basically continued closing the loophole.”