Columbine tragedy remembered with rally

DENVER – Dozens of people participated in a ‘lie-down’ at Colorado’s state Capitol yesterday to demand stricter gun control and mark the 10th anniversary of the Columbine High School shootings. A circle of 13 people representing those killed at Columbine reclined on their backs before the west steps of the Capitol. They had wrapped blue and white ribbons around their necks, the official colors of the suburban Denver school. Others kneeled next to the circle as the names of the 23 injured in the April 20, 1999, attack also were read. Among them was Mallory Sanders, granddaughter of slain teacher Dave Sanders, and Steve Wewer, godfather of slain student Daniel Mauser. Daniel’s father, Tom Mauser, wore the Vans shoes his son was wearing the day he was killed. ‘They did not kill their spirits. They did not kill ours, either,’ he told the crowd. Above them, the U.S. and Colorado state flags flew at half-staff at the Capitol, as ordered by Gov. Bill Ritter. A giant blue ribbon memorializing Columbine hung from the outside of the Capitol’s gold dome. Yesterday’s event was sponsored by Colorado Ceasefire, a gun control group. ‘I don’t necessarily think we need to get rid of guns entirely,’ said Richard Castaldo, who was partially paralyzed at Columbine. But he insisted background checks are needed at gun shows. ‘We need to know who they are.’ The crowd at the rally included families commemorating the 2007 Virginia Tech shootings. Columbine students Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, armed with guns and pipe bombs, killed 12 students and a teacher. Harris and Klebold later killed themselves. Harris and Klebold obtained three of the four weapons they used in the massacre from an 18-year-old friend at a gun show, where she wasn’t subjected to a background check. The friend later insisted she believed the guns would be used for hunting or collecting. After Columbine, Colorado’s Legislature failed to pass a measure that would have closed the so-called gun show loophole. Colorado voters then passed a ballot initiative to do so. People who buy guns at a gun show must now undergo criminal background checks by a licensed gun dealer, just as they would if they bought a gun from a federally licensed gun store.