Columbine and families of Aurora shooting victims visit White House for first gun law passage in decades

“Highland Park did not file [an extreme risk protection order] in three years. So how can you have effective legislation if you never use it? said Sullivan.

“You know, cars won’t slow down driving in school zones if you never ticket anyone.”

Sullivan’s son, Alex, was killed in the Aurora Theater shooting. He had a front-row seat in the White House, after Colorado Rep. Joe Neguse gave him his spot. Sullivan was able to show President Joe Biden a photo of Alex.

And Sullivan thinks getting something passed at the federal level will help at the state level.

“We can’t be as good as our neighboring states if we don’t get help from the federal government,” Sullivan said, noting different state laws and regulations.

Neguse, who along with Rep. Jason Crow was in the White House, called it an “important” day.

“It’s a step. This is a first step,” Neguse said. “Clearly the bill we passed and the president signed into law a few weeks ago is not a panacea, but we know it will save lives. And our hope is to build on that. .

Not enough

Biden himself acknowledged that the bill didn’t do as much as many had hoped, but called it a step in the right direction.

“Today […] is proof that despite opposition, we can make meaningful progress in the fight against gun violence.

Biden also praised families in the crowd who advocated for more gun safety measures.

“I can’t thank you enough for your willingness to keep fighting for other families. Nothing can bring your loved ones back, but you did it to make sure other families didn’t have to go through the same loss and pain that you went through.

At least one guest felt the law didn’t do enough. Manuel Oliver, who interrupted the president during his remarks, told the Miami Herald there was “nothing to celebrate.”

Still, State Senator Rhonda Fields said it was an acknowledgment of the “hard work it takes to pass gun action in the country.” Her son, Javad Marshall-Fields, and her fiancé, Vivan Wolfe, were shot in 2005.

“Sometimes the legislation is incremental,” she said. Fields was the main sponsor of the bill banning high-capacity magazines in Colorado.

“So basically that means sometimes you have to open the door and then you come back the next year and do a little bit more to make it stronger and to make it better,” Fields said. But I don’t think we should be disappointed or feel like it’s not enough. It’s something and it takes us in the right direction.

Caitlyn Kim/CPR News
Tom Mauser and State Representative Tom Sullivan in the Capitol office of Representative Joe Neguse. Mauser’s son was killed in the Columbine High School mass shooting, while Sullivan’s son was killed in the Aurora Theater shooting.

And while she would like to see a ban on assault weapons or universal nationwide background checks or raise the minimum age to purchase such a weapon, she acknowledged that would be a tough hill for Congress to climb.

“What we have in Colorado is we have people who…have the political courage and the will to do what’s right,” she said.

Field said there was an epidemic of gun violence, but was inspired by the people in the crowd.

“We can’t get enough. So the next step is to keep making incremental changes.

Next steps

Biden has called for safe storage requirements with personal accountability, universal background checks and renewed his call for an assault weapons ban.

“Yes, there is a right to bear arms,” Biden said, “But we also have the right to live freely without fearing for our lives in a grocery store, in a classroom, in a playground, in a place of worship, in a store, in a workplace, a nightclub, a festival, in our neighborhoods and our streets.

Sullivan noted that most polls show people are in favor of gun safety measures like universal background checks or raising the minimum age to buy an assault rifle. But he added that when it comes to gun safety, politicians don’t always follow the majority of their constituents.

“We always hoped that, you know, would be the last dad to go through this,” Sullivan said of him and Mauser. “And it happens every day. And now there are fathers in Highland Park trying to figure out what they can do to be the last fathers.

Many of these ideas are unlikely to win the support of ten Republican senators in an evenly divided Senate. However, Neguse, who sits on the House Judiciary Committee, hopes that an assault weapons ban could get out of the committee and onto the House floor this session.