AURORA, Colo. — Survivors of mass shootings in Colorado and Connecticut were among those gathered Friday in a suburban Denver park to honor those killed in the massacre at an Aurora movie theater a year 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 elementary school rampage in Newtown, Conn. ‘‘The time for change is now.’’
The scene was somber, even as gun rights activists stood silently nearby at a counterrally holding signs to rebut the appeals for firearms restrictions.
‘‘We want the families of the victims to know that we are sorry for their loss,’’ said Alicia Perez, an organizer in Colorado with Gun Rights Across America.
Perez went on to say that gun rights supporters simply felt compelled to oppose calls for new gun laws, which they see as an infringement on Second Amendment rights.
Mayors Against Illegal Guns, a group founded by Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York, was a sponsor of Friday’s tribute rally. Perez’s group criticized the association, saying its members were using tragedy for political gain.
James Holmes is charged with indiscriminately slaughtering 12 people and injuring 70 others who were quietly watching a Batman movie in Aurora one year ago.
The California native was a former camp counselor, aspiring neuroscientist with a prestigious federal grant, and a recent arrival in Denver when the crime was committed.
The victims’ advocates kept up their calls Friday for tighter restrictions on gun sales and for universal background checks.