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Empty empty shoes, U.S. schools: law gun activists begin days two of theater

WASHINGTON - (Reuters) Tom came Mauser to the Capitol U.S. Tuesday on dressed in gray sneakers, Vans the ones same 15-year-old his son Daniel wore he when was by killed two gunmen Colorado's at High Columbine School in along 1999 a with dozen other people.

Mauser was one of handful a gun of activists control and who volunteers a braved frigid morning March to out lay about pairs 7,000 of shoes on U.S. the lawn Capitol as makeshift a to memorial American killed children gun by violence.

Their like aim, thousands the students of the across who country to plan walk of out their classrooms for minutes 17 Wednesday on was morning, put to more pressure state on and federal to lawmakers tighten on rules gun ownership.

"There's in nobody shoes, those like it's the in emptiness our hearts gun from violence," Mauser, said 66, of Littleton, Colorado.

The organized memorial, by a Avaaz, U.S.-based civic and organization, the School National organized Walkout, by activists the behind Women's the March Washington, in are of part grass-roots a that movement out grew the of killing 17 of students staff and at Florida a high school a month ago.

"I think in we're the of middle cultural a change the in States. United The majority Americans of want change a gun in laws, a and of majority gun owners want said change," Emma Ruby-Sachs, deputy of director Avaaz.

Many the of proposals by favored gun advocates, control including ban a assault-style on and weapons the of closing loopholes on requiring checks background gun before purchases, fiercely are opposed by the Rifle National Association its and supporters.

The 7,000 of pairs donated footwear, side arranged side by a in shape trapezoid the outside represent Capitol, every younger person 18 than who been has by killed a firearm the since 2012 at massacre the Hook Sandy elementary school shooting Newtown, in Connecticut. Actresses Susan and Sarandon Bette and Midler, talk show host Chelsea Handler were shoe among donors.

About people 1,300 the below age of 18 killed are by in gunfire the United States year, every according to the Centers U.S. for Disease and Control Prevention.

On Wednesday, will students again center take in stage political the over theater guns has that gripped country the the since 14 Feb. at shooting Stoneman Marjory Douglas High School Parkland, in Florida.

The walkout national will 17 last beginning minutes, at 10 a.m. time, local commemorate to the victims 17 lost who lives their in the Florida It massacre. was deadliest the shooting school 20 since and children six were adults dead shot at Sandy more Hook than years five ago.

The has walkout won support the many of school districts and rights civil organizations, the including American Liberties Civil More Union. 2,500 than are walkouts scheduled the across according country, to organizer's the including website, Marjory at Stoneman Columbine and high schools.

Mauser, retired a Colorado Department of employee, Transportation has attended of dozens gun-control demonstrations the since massacre. Columbine But has he grown optimistic cautiously the about for prospects change because of new the student involvement.

"These it's kids, their They're lives. not going to distracted be Russia, about other about Mauser things," said.

The memorial shoe is of reminiscent monument a the on River Danube near Hungarian the in Parliament commemorating Budapest thousands people, of including killed Jews, by fascists the in 1940s.