A major memorial service and other events will mark the one-year anniversary of the Littleton, Colorado, school shooting incident that left 15 dead, including the two students who planned the shootings. Students and other survivors are approaching the anniversary with a mixture of reverence for the victims and dread that old wounds will be reopened.
On April 20th, the actual anniversary date of the incident, the Columbine Redemption Service will be hosted by Darrell Scott and Beth Nimmo, parents of slain Columbine student Rachel Scott. At the service, Rachel’s parents will release the book, “Rachel’s Tears,” a personal account of Rachel’s life in her own words as taken from her journals and drawings. Colorado Governor Bill Owens will attend, as will many other dignitaries and surviving family members. President Bill Clinton was invited to attend, but chose instead to politicize the incident by attending a gun control rally a few days earlier.
“I am saddened and disappointed at the President’s choice of events to attend,” said Alan Gottlieb, chairman of the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms. “Mr. Clinton continues to shamelessly exploit a tragedy for partisan political gain, rather than join with all Americans in promoting healing and unity.”
The political rally the President will attend is being held in support of a gun control initiative similar to part of the President’s gun control agenda. The Colorado initiative would require background checks on private sales of guns at gun shows, in addition to the checks already required of retail sales. The President’s Congressional agenda also includes a ban on the import of high capacity magazines, unsealing of juvenile criminal records, and further restrictions on legitimate access to firearms by juveniles.
CCRKBA Executive Director Joe Waldron noted, “Nothing in either the Colorado initiative or the President’s gun control package would have prevented the Columbine incident. Clinton’s actions in Colorado represent political demagoguery at its worst.”
Columbine parents’ reaction to the incident has been mixed. Some, like Tom Mauser, father of slain student Daniel Mauser, have joined the gun control bandwagon. Others, like Darrell Scott, father of Rachel, and Rick Castaldo, whose son Richard was paralyzed as a result of the incident, have rejected the simplistic, knee-jerk gun control reaction. Last May, Scott testified against additional gun control to the House Judiciary Committee, and Castaldo has published articles accusing the President of “using Tom Mauser like a pawn,” and disingenuously promoting “big government” solutions to local problems.
The President’s actions are probably best summed up by Colorado Governor Bill Owens, a Republican and supporter of gun control, who declined to attend the rally with Clinton. “I trust that Colorado will make him feel welcome, but I don’t want to inject national politics into a Colorado initiative,” said Owens. “And I’m particularly concerned about the timing coming as it does eight days before (the anniversary of the shootings at) Columbine.”