Tom Mauser of Prince of Peace Church of the Brethren in Littleton, Colo., in mid-July was one of those invited to attend President Biden’s celebration of the signing of the first gun reform bill in nearly 30 years.
He reported, “There were at least 500 people there, I’d guess, and most were gun violence survivors, activists, and experts, along with members of Congress. I got to speak to President Biden briefly (thanks to Congressman Joe Neguse of Boulder!), met Senator Amy Klobuchar, and got to visit with many other victims and activists I’ve known over the years. I had the honor of sitting with Rep. Neguse in the Congressional seating area, in the fourth row, close to the podium.”
Mauser’s son Daniel Mauser was one of the students killed in the mass shooting at Columbine High School on April 20, 1999. After losing his son to gun violence, he took a one-year leave of absence from his job to lobby the state legislature to pass stronger gun laws. When they failed to do so, he led the effort to offer Colorado voters a ballot initiative to close the gun show loophole. Colorado voters passed that initiative in 2000 by a vote of 70 percent to 30 percent. (See a Newsline report marking the 20th anniversary of the Columbine shootings at https://www.brethren.org/news/2019/this-journey-is-one-that-no-one-should-have-to-bear/.)
In the years since, Mauser has continued his advocacy work and is active in other peacemaking efforts of the congregation.
Mauser was invited by Neguse to shake Pres. Biden’s hand, despite a crush of people. “Neguse called out to Biden that the father of a Columbine victim was here,” Mauser said. “A few minutes later Biden came by and shook my hand and we spoke. I thanked Biden, saying that after being asked many times why nothing has been done about gun reform since Columbine (at the federal level), we could now say something was done.
Mauser noted that Neguse is the first Eritrean-American elected to Congress and Colorado’s first Black member of Congress. “He was in a nearby high school at the time of Columbine and was very impacted by it and my activism,” Mauser said.
“Also, I would add one of the most impactful statements from a speaker was from Uvalde’s only pediatrician, who related how many of the children are traumatized and many are even reluctant to return to school.
“Like many there, early on I was disappointed at how little was in the bill,” Mauser said. “But now there’s some pretty strong agreement that there are some good things in this bill, and that this was just the beginning, that we had to now build on it.
“I was pleased with Biden’s speech. While he outlined the good things in the bill, he also spent time saying we had to do more, listing the things we need to fight for: universal background checks, a safe storage law, and an assault weapons ban. It was a forward looking and hopeful message!”