DENVER (AP) — Gun-rights advocates are planning a rally at the same park where a group will read the names of gun violence victims on the anniversary of the Colorado theater shootings, prompting a state lawmaker to call the move "a slap in the face."
Rocky Mountain Gun Owners scheduled a rally for Friday to coincide with a remembrance ceremony planned by Mayors Against Illegal Guns at Cherry Creek State Park in the Denver suburb of Aurora.
Both start at noon. State Parks spokeswoman Jennifer Churchill said the groups were issued permits for locations that are within sight of each other, but she didn't know the distance. She said park rangers and law officers would be present to keep the peace.
"I think it's a slap in the face of the people who are suffering the loss of a loved one," said state Rep. Rhonda Fields, a Democrat from Aurora. Fields' district includes the theater where 12 people were killed and 70 injured one year ago Saturday, and she plans to participate in the remembrance ceremony.
Fields' son was shot and killed in 2005 to keep him from testifying in a murder trial.
Dudley Brown, executive director of Rocky Mountain Gun Owners, denied his group was being insensitive and said his members would be respectful.
He accused Mayors Against Illegal Guns and its founder, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, of politicizing the Aurora massacre to promote gun control.
"Mayor Bloomberg is using this tragedy and walking all over graves to get to the microphone," Brown said.
Bloomberg's organization respects the gun group's constitutional rights to protest and to own firearms, spokesman Kelly Steele said.