Silent March against gun violence is ‘soleful’

The Colorado Statesman

Nearly 1,800 pairs of shoes filled the west steps of the State Capitol on Thursday, symbolic of the more than 7,000 Coloradans felled by gunfire in the years since the Columbine Massacre, said organizers of the so-called Silent March to bring attention to victims of gun violence.

“Our own state, unfortunately, has been in the forefront of some of these horrible mass-shooting tragedies, so we are in a position to be a leader throughout the country in taking action,” said state Rep. Beth McCann, D-Denver, who told the crowd of roughly 100 that it was important to demonstrate that there was a vocal constituency for gun-control laws “who just will not let this issue go.”

Gun-control advocates take part in a rally at the State Capitol on April 18 as flags fly at half-staff to honor the victims of the Boston Marathon bombing earlier in the week. “Hey, Hey, NRA, how many kids did you kill today?” reads one sign, drawing attention to the gun-rights group’s role blocking a package of gun legislation in the U.S. Senate the day before.
Photo by Ernest Luning/The Colorado Statesman

McCann, one of the chief sponsors of controversial gun-control legislation this session, said she was stunned that gun-rights advocates had managed to block federal gun-control legislation a day earlier in Washington, when advocates failed to muster enough votes to overcome a Senate filibuster.

Signs list the victims of high-profile shootings in Colorado, including the Columbine High School massacre 1999 and a mass-murder at an Aurora Chuck E. Cheese’s restaurant in 1993, amid a sea of empty shoes lining the steps of the State Capitol on April 18. The shoes represent victims of gun violence in the state since Columbine, according to event organizers.
Photo by Ernest Luning/The Colorado Statesman

“My heart is heavy today at what happened yesterday in the United States Senate. It’s embarrassing, and I’m still having trouble understanding how this could happen,” she said. “But the good news is, here in Colorado, we did pass a universal background check, and we did pass a magazine limit, and we do now require people to pay to get their own background checks.” She added that she was confident that another bill she was sponsoring — it would confiscate guns from Coloradans convicted of domestic violence offenses and those subject to protective orders — would pass the House in coming days.

State Reps. Beth McCann, D-Denver, and Rhonda Fields, D-Aurora, and state Sen. Nancy Todd, D-Aurora, pray at a rally meant to honor victims of gun violence on April 18 on the west steps of the State Capitol. The three are among the chief sponsors of gun-control legislation in Colorado, including a bill to expand background-check requirements for firearms purchasers and another bill that restricts large-capactiy magazines in the state.
Photo by Ernest Luning/The Colorado Statesman

“The good news is, we are taking some action here in Colorado,” McCann said.

Colorado Ceasefire organized the event along with Moms Demand Action, the Million Moms March, Hunters Against Gun Violence and Mayors Against Illegal Guns. Other speakers at the rally included state Rep. Rhonda Fields, D-Aurora, who lost her son and his fiancé to gun violence, and state Sen. Nancy Todd, D-Aurora, whose district includes the Aurora movie theater where 16 were killed and dozens more wounded in a mass shooting last summer. Family members of victims of shootings at Columbine, Aurora and Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., also spoke, some placing empty pairs of shoes on the steps.

Ernest@coloradostatesman.com