Gov. John Hickenlooper shakes hands with Desiree Davis while presenting her and Michael with a ceremonial pen after signing two school-safety bills named for their daughter
BY TOM BARRY
Claire Davis’s parents have worked diligently since her tragic murder at Arapahoe High School to make a profound difference for those in other schools. After a handful of touching public appearances, Michael and Desiree Davis were finally able to display some positive emotions, including smiles and a sign of some relief.
On June 3, Gov. John Hickenlooper signed two pieces of school-safety legislation, making them law, with the Davises at his side. The governor then turned and presented a gold pen to Desiree.
Upon signing the second bill, Hickenlooper stood and individually embraced Claire’s parents. The Davises were brimming with smiles as the relieved couple interacted with state officials and friends.
“Certainly for our children to learn, to grow, we need to make sure that we ensure their safety,” said Hickenlooper, calling the Davises our North Star. “… These bills are going to help us make some real progress in making us sure that we are doing everything we can to prevent school violence, and then to try and make things right in situations where prevention efforts turn out not to be enough to stop the unthinkable act from happening. … [Senate Bill 213] will provide for victims and the families of victims a way to obtain information and certainly get the facts, but also to seek damages.”
The governor said legislators had made an effort to make sure the bill did not open up the schools and districts to burdensome lawsuits.
“We certainly, in Colorado, have endured more than our share of school violence … [We] take meaningful action like we are doing so today to diminish – and hopefully significantly diminish – the possible events in the future. I think these efforts are a clear and an important step in the right direction,” Hickenlooper said.
The governor then introduced the Davises as “two good friends of mine, two of the most courageous and thoughtful people that I know, and really two of the most selfless people.”
The governor adjusted the microphone for Desiree as the audience applauded.
The Davis family presented legislators and special guests a black marble keepsake engraved with Claire Davis’s photo and the date of the bill signing.Photos by Tom Barry
‘A very difficult journey’
“Today is a good day for Colorado families,” said Desiree, thanking the bills’ sponsors. “It has been a very difficult journey for the past 18 months for our family, friends, the students and teachers of Colorado. … We now have a path that will enable all of us to change the direction and culture in Colorado schools. Claire has made an indelible mark on all our hearts. She paid the ultimate price for trying to help a fellow student [shooter Karl Pierson]. Let’s learn from our past mistakes so that every student and teacher will know that Colorado truly cares for their safety in our schools.”
A handful of family friends, legislative sponsors, legislative staff, lobbyists, media consultants and observers applauded after the brief remarks.
“This is a story and a bill of great courage and a symbol of turning tragedy into triumph,” said Crisanta Duran, the House majority leader, who then displayed a heavy black marble gift from the Davis family, reiterating their mantra, “Choose to Love.”
Senate President Bill Cadman then addressed the group. He thanked the Davises and their team of communications and lobbying executives for their determination and for being actively involved in the process.
Cadman was most impressed with the couple’s focus on forgiveness and moving forward.
“Working on this project was really one of the more gratifying experiences I’ve had being in the state legislature. It was a true privilege,” he said.
Desiree Davis smiles at her husband Michael during a signing ceremony where Gov. John Hickenlooper inked two laws relating to school safety.
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