A gun rights rally scheduled during a remembrance rally for those killed in the Aurora theater massacre last summer is a “slap in the face,” according to Colorado state Representative Rhonda Fields, who lives in the Denver suburb.
The Rocky Mountain gun Owners are scheduled to begin their rally at noon on Friday, in the same park and at the same time as the remembrance ceremony planned by the Mayors Against Illegal Guns.
Both of the groups will be in sight of each other, a fact that is sure to cause tensions as the remembrance will likely include victims of the violent shooting, which happened at the midnight premier of The Dark Knight Rises.
Rep. Fields added of the gun rights rally, “I think it’s a slap in the face of the people who are suffering the loss of a loved one.” The politician’s district includes the theater where a gunman killed 12 people and injured 70 more one year ago Saturday. She plans to participate in the ceremony, along with Aurora victim Stephen Barton.
Barton called Friday’s remembrance “an opportunity for the community to come together and remember the 12 who were killed and 70 others injured.” Barton was shot in the neck and wounded by other shrapnel during the theater massacre.
While the remembrance ceremony hears testimony from families of those killed in the Aurora massacre, the gun rights rally plans on addressing Mayors Against Illegal Guns. Rocky Mountain Gun Owners executive director Dudley Brown accused the group and its founder, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, of politicizing the Aurora theater shooting to promote gun control.
Spokeswoman for Bloomberg’s organization Kelly Steele responded to the accusations by saying that they respect the group’s right to protest and own firearms. Steele added, “But this is a memorial for Americans murdered with guns, not a pep rally. Their rights aren’t in question, but their judgement certainly is.”
The Aurora remembrance gathering will include a roll call of gun violence victims from around the country. It is expected to end at 12:38 am Saturday, the official moment when gunshots were reported at the Century Aurora 16.
Park rangers and law officers will be present at the gun rights rally and Aurora remembrance ceremony to keep the peace, according to State Parks spokeswoman Jennifer Churchill.