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Aurora remembrance, gun-rights rally collide on anniversary

10:32 PM, Jul 19, 2013   |    comments
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(NBC NEWS) -- A Colorado gun-rights advocacy group is set to put on a "counter rally" Friday in the same park as an event to remember the victims of the Aurora movie theater massacre on the one-year anniversary of the shootings.

Twelve people were killed and dozens more were wounded in the attack shortly past midnight on July 20, 2012. Suspect James Holmes is in custody ahead of a trial scheduled for early next year.

Friday's remembrance in Cherry Creek State Park in the Denver suburb is in conjunction with the "No More Names" bus tour, a drive put on by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg's group Mayors Against Illegal Guns. The tour plans to visit communities across the country in the next several months to urge legislatures to pass gun-control laws.

The event, due to begin at noon local time, will continue until 12:38 a.m. Saturday, the moment a year ago when the shooting at the theater began. During the remembrance, survivors, community members and the families of the 12 victims will read the names of thousands of victims of gun violence from across the country.

A gathering of the Rocky Mountain Gun Owners is scheduled to get underway simultaneously. The two events will take place at separate locations within the park but will be within sight of each other.

In an email sent to members of the group, Executive Director Dudley Brown described the gathering as "a peaceful 'counter-rally' with other gun rights supporters across the state to tell gun-grabber Bloomberg to keep his hands off our Constitutional rights."

Rocky Mountain Gun Owners objects to the remembrance because they feel Mayors Against Illegal Guns' presence politicizes the event, a spokeswoman said.

"We don't want to disturb any kind of memorial," said RMGO spokeswoman Danielle Thompson. "Since Bloomberg brought in his political agenda, we simply want our opinion present - which is to preserve the liberties of law-abiding citizens."

Thompson said that the organization will not have signs and does not intend on disrupting the remembrance. The group does not know how many supporters will show up, but is anticipating between 10 and 15 from their office will attend.

By Gillian Spear, NBC News

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