When President Donald Trump delivers his third State of the Union address before a joint session of Congress on Tuesday, Tom Mauser will be there in the gallery, wearing the shoes of his son, Daniel Mauser, who was killed in the 1999 Columbine shooting in Colorado.
Mauser, a prominent advocate for gun violence prevention legislation, will be attending the speech as a guest of U.S. Rep. Joe Neguse, the Lafayette Democrat's office said Friday.
“I’ll be there, wearing my son’s shoes, to keep alive the hope that the nation will finally do the right thing, addressing this epidemic of gun violence,” Mauser said in a statement.
“It’s been over 20 years since my son and 12 others were shot down at Columbine, and what have our leaders in Washington done? It’s outrageous that we haven’t even addressed the most basic of solutions — closing loopholes in our background check system — loopholes my son Daniel pointed out to me two weeks before he was killed.”
Following his son's death, Mauser helped pass Colorado legislation to close a loophole that allowed the Columbine shooters to obtain a firearm.
Neguse, who grew up in Highlands Ranch, near Columbine, and at 35 is the same age Daniel Mauser would be if he were alive, talked about his guest's story last year in a House Judiciary Committee hearing on legislation to require universal background checks, his office said.
“Coloradans have experienced the tragedy and grief of gun violence far too many times," Neguse said in a statement. "Across the nation, we have an American gun violence epidemic on our hands that needs to be addressed."
Neguse called on Trump to "consider the lives lost and the toil that mass shootings are having on Coloradans and on our nation as he addresses the State of our Union next week. Anything less does a disservice to the grief being lived out by Tom and individuals across our nation."
He added that he hopes Mauser's attendance "will be a reminder that Colorado has been waiting for over 20 years for federal action on gun violence, and they cannot wait any longer.”
Mauser attended President Bill Clinton's final State of the Union address in January 2000, less than a year after losing his son.
Clinton called Daniel Mauser "an amazing kid, a straight-A student, a good skier" during the speech and recognized Tom Mauser from the dais.
"Like all parents who lose their children, his father Tom has borne unimaginable grief," Clinton said, according to a New York Times transcript of the speech.
"Somehow he has found the strength to honor his son by transforming his grief into action. Earlier this month, he took a leave of absence from his job to fight for tougher gun safety laws. I pray that his courage and wisdom will at long last move this Congress to make commonsense gun legislation the very next order of business. And Tom Mauser, stand up. We thank you for being here tonight, Tom. Thank you, Tom."