Survivors of mass shootings in Colorado and Connecticut gathered with dozens of supporters Friday in a suburban Denver park to honor those killed in the massacre at an Aurora movie theater almost a year to the day after the attack.
Vigil participants read a list of names of those killed in recent gun violence around the nation and talked about the pain of losing loved ones as they called for strict federal gun control laws.
"Why wait any longer?" asked Carlee Soto, whose sister was killed at the Sandy Hook Elementary School rampage in Newtown, Conn. "The time for change is now."
The Aurora vigil came almost a year to the day after 12 people were killed and 70 others were wounded, some paralyzed, in a July 20 attack at a midnight showing of The Dark Knight Rises. Participants in the vigil called for more universal background checks and tighter restrictions on gun sales. Colorado has been the only state outside the East Coast to ratchet back gun rights in reaction to last year's mass shootings. A recent push for new federal restrictions failed in Congress.
Mayors Against Illegal Guns, which promotes tough gun laws and was founded by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, helped sponsor the vigil. The mayors group said participants were reading the names of about 2,500 people who have been killed by gunfire since Dec. 14, when a gunman killed 20 first-graders and six adults at Sandy Hook.
The scene was somber, even as about 100 gun rights activists held a protest nearby to oppose new firearms restrictions as infringements on Second Amendment rights. Many wore orange National Rifle Association hats and T-shirts reading, "I will not comply."