Aurora shooting: Tom Mauser, Columbine father, on gun control, political silence
It's not about politics, it's about the tens of thousands of people who die every year in America due to gun violence -- including the twelve victims of the Aurora theater shootings.
This is how Tom Mauser, father of a Columbine victim and now activist for gun control, responds to politicians and others in Colorado and across the country who are saying that now is not the time to have a debate about gun policy.
"There really isn't any debate on it at this point," he says. "Everyone wants to avoid it like the plague."
Mauser, sixty, who spoke at the Aurora vigil on Friday night after accused shooter James Holmes killed twelve and injured dozens more at the midnight screening of The Dark Night Rises, lost his son Daniel to the shootings at Columbine High School in 1999.
Sam Levin Tom Mauser speaks at a vigil on Friday night in Aurora surrounded by local religious leaders.
"The statements that have been out there have been so...devoid of any content," Mauser says. "It's clear that there is a real fear of taking on a controversial issue like this when it's an election year."
In public appearances so far, Governor John Hickenlooper has dodged questions about gun control. On Sunday's Meet the Press, he said:
I think that [gun control] debate's going to happen. It has already started. But you look at this person, again, almost a creature, if he couldn't have gotten access to guns, what kind of bomb he would have manufactured? We're at a time, an information age, where there's access to all kinds of information.... I think he was almost a terrorist that wanted to take away not just from the people here, but from the country, our ability to enjoy life, to go to a movie theater. Which for most of us is a refuge where we can get away from the pressures of life. It's a human issue. How are we not able to identify someone like this who is so deeply, deeply disturbed?
It's this kind of talk that completely misses the point, Mauser believes.
"It seems like with every case, we have an excuse, but we don't look at the overall problem," he says.
When asked for a response to these criticisms, a Hickenlooper spokesman deferred to previous comments on the matter while pointing out that the governor has acknowledged the gun control debate will happen -- "but now is not the time as people...are still being buried."
Page down to read more of our interview with Tom Mauser.