Close this search box.
Close this search box.

12 students and teacher killed at Columbine will be honored at 25th anniversary vigil

Former Arizona Congresswoman Gabby Giffords, who started advocating for gun safety after surviving a mass shooting, will be one of the speakers at the memorial event. Nathan Hochhalter, whose sister Anne Marie was left paralyzed after being shot at Columbine,

The 12 students and one teacher killed in the Columbine High School shooting will be commemorated on Friday at a vigil marking the 25th anniversary of the tragedy.

The event, organized by gun safety and other groups, is the main public gathering to remember the anniversary, which is quieter compared to previous milestone years. It will take place at 7:30 p.m. on Friday at First Baptist Church 1373 Grant St, in Denver, after being relocated from the state Capitol.

Former Arizona Congresswoman Gabby Giffords, who became an advocate for gun safety after surviving a mass shooting, will be one of the speakers at the vigil. Nathan Hochhalter, whose sister Anne Marie was paralyzed in the Columbine shooting, will also speak. Several months after the shooting, their mother, Carla Hochhalter, took her own life.

The organizers of the vigil, which will also honor all those affected by the shooting, include Colorado Ceasefire, Brady United Against Gun Violence and Colorado Faith Communities United Against Gun Violence, but they emphasize it will not be a political event.

Tom Mauser, whose son Daniel, a sophomore who excelled in math and science, was killed at Columbine, decided to arrange the vigil after learning school officials did not plan to organize a large community event as they did on the 20th anniversary. Mauser, who became a gun safety advocate after the shooting, said he understands that it takes a lot of volunteers and money to put together that kind of event, but he wanted to provide an opportunity for people to come together and acknowledge that 25 years have passed since the shooting, a significant milestone for many.

“For those who do want to reflect on it, it is something for them,” said Mauser, who is on Colorado Ceasefire’s board and asked the group to help organize the event at a church near the state Capitol in Denver. It had been scheduled to be held on the steps of the Capitol but was moved indoors because of expected rain.

Mauser successfully led the campaign to pass a ballot measure requiring background checks for all firearm buyers at gun shows in 2000 after Colorado’s legislature failed to change the law. It was designed to close a loophole that helped a friend of the Columbine gunmen obtain three of the four firearms used in the attack.

A proposal requiring such checks nationally, inspired by Columbine, failed in Congress in 1999 after passing the Senate but dying in the House, said Robert Spitzer, professor emeritus at the State University of New York-Cortland and author of several books on gun politics.

Democratic presidential candidate Al Gore ran on a gun safety agenda against Republican George W. Bush the following year, but after his stance was mistakenly seen as a major reason for his defeat, Democrats largely abandoned the issue for the following decade, Spitzer said. But gun safety became a more prominent political issue again after the 2012 Sandy Hook shooting, he said.

Without much action nationally on guns, Democrat-led and Republican-controlled states have taken different ways of dealing with mass shootings. to respond to incidents of many people being shot.

The victims of the Columbine shooting included Dave Sanders, a teacher who was shot while guiding students to safety during the attack. He lay wounded in a classroom for nearly four hours before help arrived. The students who died included one who aspired to work in the music industry like his father, a senior and leader of the girls’ varsity volleyball team, and a teenager who enjoyed driving off-road in his old Chevy pickup.

Sam Cole, a board member of Colorado Ceasefire, expressed his desire for people to honor the victims and ensure that they are not forgotten. He mentioned that the students who lost their lives would now be adults in the prime of their lives with families of their own.

“It’s just sorrowful to think that they will always be remembered as teenagers,” he said.

Sign up for our daily Your Morning Dozen email newsletter to receive more news from Colorado.

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments