NewsColumbine: 25 Years Later


25 years after Columbine: A father's journey through grief, advocacy in his son's shoes

Posted: 9:30 PM, Apr 22, 2024
Updated: 2024-04-23 01:31:47-04
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JEFFERSON COUNTY, Colo. — Twenty-five years after his son was killed at Columbine High School, one father shares how his journey through grief has led him all over the country in his son's shoes.

Tom Mauser’s son, Daniel, was one of the 13 lives lost at Columbine on April 20, 1999. The father said it’s impossible for him to think of who his son could have become.

“To me, he's still 15. I just can't get into the what would he be doing today and what would things be like for him. It's just too hard to do,” Mauser said. “Daniel was a really intelligent kid, straight A student. Very shy, very gentle.”

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Two weeks before the shooting, Tom said Daniel out of the blue asked him a question that will stick with him forever.

“He said, "Did you know that there were loopholes in the Brady Bill?" The Brady Bill was a national law that requires background checks before purchasing a firearm. And I just kind of blew it off. I said, "No, I didn't know about that, Daniel." And then two weeks later, he was killed with a gun that was purchased through one of those loopholes,” Tom said.

After he lost Daniel, that question inspired Tom to become an advocate for gun safety. Oftentimes, he wears the sneakers his son wore the day he died.

“Daniel was someone who was very shy and yet he chose to join the debate team at Columbine to overcome that. And I'm also introverted, so that became very symbolic for me walking in Daniel’s shoes. I could overcome that too,” Tom said.

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Tom successfully campaigned to close the gun show loophole in Colorado in 2000. He continues to speak out as a board member of Colorado Ceasefire, meeting with lawmakers and leading rallies while wearing the decades-old sneakers.

“It’s very satisfying for me to be able to do something that Daniel had talked to me about,” Tom said.

Sadly, since the Columbine shooting, there have been hundreds of school shootings across the country. Tom is often asked about gun violence in schools, telling Denver7 there are no simple solutions.

“It happens in our schools because it's happening in so many places. You know, we see gun violence in our homes, we see it in grocery stores and shopping malls and hospitals. You can't think that you can just erase or stop gun violence in our schools if you can't stop it and other places,” Tom said.

The Biden administration announced on April 11 a new regulation to close the gun show loophole nationwide.

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