February 06, 2019

Congressman Joe Neguse Shares Story of Columbine Father At Judiciary Hearing Today

Washington D.C.— Today, in the first House hearing on gun violence in nearly a decade, Representative Joe Neguse used his allotted time to lift up the story of Tom Mauser, whose son was killed in the deadly shooting at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado in 1999.

“[In Colorado], we have had multiple, countless tragedies of gun violence in our state. Some folks earlier mentioned Columbine High School in 1999, which killed 15 to the shooting in a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado in 2012, in which 12 people perished, along with countless other every day incidents of gun violence,” said Representative Joe Neguse during the committee hearing.

“At the time of the shooting at Columbine, I was 14-years-old, I lived 10 minutes and 10 miles away from that high school, but it is not my story that I want to share today,” continued Neguse.

A young man Daniel Mauser was killed in the shooting at Columbine. He was roughly my age, 15-years-old at the time. This April 20th, in just two months, will mark the 20th anniversary of the tragedy at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado.  I spoke with Daniel’s father yesterday, Tom Mauser, and he recounted the story to me that just two weeks before the tragedy, 15-year-old Daniel asked his father a question at the dinner table, reflecting on a conversation in his debate class. He said 'Dad, did you know there are loopholes in the Brady Bill?'  Two weeks later Daniel was killed at Columbine High School— with a gun purchased through one of those loopholes.”  

“Daniel’s father, Tom, remains haunted by that question today, and by the hole in our gun laws that allowed his son to be killed. He has committed his life to championing this issue ever since his son's death. When Tom first began sharing his story, he wore his son’s shoes to speak with people, telling people that he had taken his son’s place in the great debate about gun violence. Months after the Columbine tragedy, Colorado voters overwhelmingly voted to close the background check loophole, and many other states have since followed suit. The American people understand that we need to keep firearms out of the wrong hands, and yet it is twenty years later, and we at the federal level have shamefully done nothing about this issue.”

On average, 34 people in America are murdered on account of gun violence every single day. Although there is no single law that would protect Americans from all types of shootings, the current patchwork of federal firearms laws fails to adequately address the problem of gun violence. Today’s hearing presented an opportunity for Members and the public to hear the experiences and perspectives of a wide array of witnesses and illustrates the motivation of the new Democratic majority in the House to address the problem of gun violence in America at this critical moment.

“Coloradans worked hard to elect Rep. Neguse and now that he's in Congress, he's using his platform to honor the victims and survivors of Columbine, Aurora and hundreds of other tragic shootings that never made headlines,” said Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. “I couldn't be more grateful to Rep. Neguse, and all of the other House leaders committed to prioritizing gun safety legislation and keeping our families safe.”

“Coloradans know the importance of common-sense gun laws to keep us safe, that’s why we were one of the first states after the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School to require background checks on all gun sales,” said the Colorado Chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. “We're proud to stand with Congressman Neguse to fight for background checks on all gun sales across the country. He understands that every time a gun is sold without a background check, whether it’s in Utah, Kansas or Nebraska, that’s a gun that could threaten the safety of Coloradans in the hands of someone who shouldn’t have it.”

"Universal background checks are foundational to any efforts to reduce gun violence," said Eileen McCarron, President of Colorado Ceasefire Legislative Action. "Why would we ever want to  make it easy for murderers, rapists, domestic violence abusers or other prohibited persons to obtain lethal weapons. Public Safety should be a primary concern of any elected leader."

“Gun violence at the magnitude that we currently witness it is a distinctly American problem,” said Representative Joe Neguse in an issued statement. “No young person should have to fear gun violence in their school. No Coloradan should have to wonder if they will be safe in our public spaces. We are overdue for common sense gun safety measures. The Democratic Majority in the House will lead the way on bold common-sense gun violence prevention legislation to ensure a safer America and for the safety of children like Daniel Mauser.”

View Representative Neguse’s full comments at today’s hearing here.