My Letter to Charlton Heston

May 11, 1999

Mr. Charlton Heston
National Rifle Association
Fax 703-267-3907

Dear Mr. Heston:

My name is Tom Mauser, the father of Daniel Mauser. Daniel was killed at Columbine High School. As you may be aware, I spoke at the rally in Denver while you were meeting at the Adam's Mark Hotel, and also spoke recently at the White House. I would like to ask some questions of you and would really appreciate your responses.

Unlike others at the rally in Denver, I did not necessarily object to the NRA meeting in Denver. In fact, I'm wondering, why did you cancel the large convention? If you indeed feel no kind of responsibility for the events at Columbine High, WHY cancel the convention? I believe you said that the cancellation was 'out of respect' for the children. Can you explain to me how this is showing respect? What respect was paid to the children? Not once did I receive any condolences from any of the few thousand NRA members who did come to Denver. Why weren't they here in Littleton to offer condolences and suggestions on how to deal with these kinds of school killings?

My son was shot by a Tec DC9, a 9 mm, semi-automatic gun with a 30-bullet clip. What practical purpose is there to this gun? I have never known a hunter to use this type of weapon to shoot a deer. Have you?

As I understand it, this gun can no longer be sold new. Is it not true, though, that the NRA fought the attempts to outlaw this and other similar types of assault weapons? If so, why?

This gun is advertised as "fingerprint-resistant." I find this repugnant. Do you? How do you feel about being part of an interest group that would make such an outrageous advertisement?

The NRA deserves credit as a promoter of gun safety and representative of hunters. But I believe it and other gun organizations deserve our condemnation for the relentless promotion of gun proliferation and protection of all types of guns, regardless of their dangerousness. The NRA argues that countries that have gun restrictions aren't as "free" as us. But when was the last time you heard of kids killing kids with guns in Japan, or France, or Italy, or Germany, .? Or a child pumping two bullets into an innocent child's face, as happened to my son? This is a sickness. I think there are a hell of a lot of parents and grandparents out there who'd love to experience a freedom these other Free World countries may have: the freedom to live without so much fear of violence and guns! A freedom from having to endure the pain that Littleton has had to endure. Can you relate to that pain, Mr. Heston?!? Can you understand that some unlimited freedoms come at too high a price? I feel that I have (unwillingly) paid the ultimate sacrifice for the NRA's twisted defense of the Second Amendment. Would you be willing to sacrifice any of your children or grandchildren in the same way, sir?

For years the NRA has told us that if we just locked up our criminals, we'd be safe. Well, we've built thousands more jail cells and locked people up, but the killing goes on. My son was not killed by criminals--they only became criminals once they pulled the triggers. Isn't that true? What good did those jail cells do my son?

NRA members complain about the number of existing gun control laws and their ineffectiveness and loopholes. Perhaps. But isn't it true that the NRA has often fought for those loopholes?

Over the past twelve days my family has been comforted, thanks to our faith in Jesus Christ and the support of so many people. Jesus has spiritually comforted us. Do you believe that if Jesus were here on earth physically at this moment that He could care less about the "right" to own a gun? Do you think He would support "right to carry" laws and tell us that's a good thing for a society?

I think you should remember from your movies a key aspect of the life of Jesus Christ: Jesus gave us the ultimate gift when He sacrificed His life for us. He also expects us to sacrifice for the love of each other. Do you agree? I think the time has come for parents to sacrifice more time for their children; the time has come for the entertainment business to make sacrifices for the good of all by weeding out its' "dark side." And the time has come for the NRA to make some sacrifices and quit protecting the dark side of the gun trade. Are you willing to sacrifice something, Mr. Heston? If so, what?

Sure, these are tough and perhaps leading questions. Questions you ask are indeed tough when you needlessly lose your own flesh and blood. Maybe you're saying I'm some crackpot who's all emotional and angry and trying to needlessly place blame on someone. Well, I've attributed responsibility to much in society but I am sickened that the NRA acknowledges absolutely no connection with its promotion of the proliferation of assault weapons. Yes, I'm emotional, but who wouldn't be? But I have the spirit of my son to calm me and his debating background to keep me focused and reasonable.

Yes, I'm a bit angry, but who wouldn't be? Have you ever lost a child, Mr. Heston? If you did you'd understand the pain and emptiness. You'd not want others to suffer as you did and you'd want to help reduce the chances of this happening more. You'd get to the heart of the matter and ask tough questions. I hope you're willing to respond. I look forward to your honest and forthright answers to these difficult questions. And so does the rest of the country.


Tom Mauser
A grieving father

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