Aurora shooting: Tom Mauser, Columbine father, on gun control, political silence
Holmes only had a single traffic violation on his record, but even if he had more of a criminal record, that wouldn't have stopped him from purchasing guns, Mauser notes. "If someone said, "I think this guy is dangerous,' we still couldn't stop that, because we have the bar set so high."
"The loss...of lives is not a political issue. It's not a partisan issue. It's a social issue," Mauser says. "It's a social ill that we have right now that we are clearly not dealing with. We have a shameful level of gun violence compared to the rest of the world.... When the rest of the world says we are nuts, they're right. It's crazy."
Sam Levin Aurora vigil.
While Mauser says it's hard to believe that this level of violence would not spark the kinds of debates he would like to see after years advocating for stricter gun control laws, he has come to expect inaction.
"I'm not surprised. You can't be when you follow the stories," he says.
So what will it take for the debate to change?
"There's two primary things: It'll take a really depressing one -- a lot more lives to be lost, because clearly losing...32 people a day isn't prompting us into action," Mauser says, referencing the 2007 rampage at Virgina Tech. "The other thing would be for more people like me -- not just those who lost someone directly -- to get engaged in the issue."
He hopes that someday politicians will fear the anger of folks like him as much as they are afraid of upsetting the gun lobby.
And the gun lobby has done a good job, he says, of making the conversation about fear of lost rights versus basic common sense -- such as, in Mauser's view, the idea that regular folks shouldn't be able to so easily access military weapons that can do as much damage as Holmes did last week.
"The problem is, we've seen all kinds of people commit these terrible crimes in all kinds of locations," he says. "There's a lot of variety. The only common element is the gun."
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