Colorado was brought back into the national spotlight on Monday when ten tragic mass shootings took place that killed ten people, including a police officer, at King Soopers in Boulder.
In the past few decades, Colorado has hosted some of the country’s most well-known gun violence, affecting the nation’s residents and leaders.
In 1999, two Columbine High School students killed 12 more and one teacher before committing suicide.
In 2012, a shooter opened fire at a movie theater in Aurora, killing 12 and injuring 58 with gunshot wounds. The gunman, who locked doors and used tear gas, was sentenced to life in prison.
In 2015, three dead and nine other injured were killed in a shootout at the Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood Clinic.
Colorado had the sixth highest rate of public mass shootings among the 50 states, according to a database compiled by USA TODAY, Northeastern University, and The Associated Press.
See:President Biden urges Congress to adopt gun security measures following the shooting in Boulder, Colorado
However, according to James Alan Fox, professor of criminology, law, and public order for the Lipman family at Northeastern University, such incidents are rare occurrences that make it difficult to pinpoint exactly why they occurred in one place and not another .
“There will be clusters by chance,” he said.
The state’s rate of mass homicides is among the lowest in the country, and its gun laws are stricter than many other states, say gun violence proponents.
Robin Lloyd, executive director of Giffords, a group that aims to combat gun violence in the United States, said Colorado is not overall unique in terms of the incidence of gun violence.
“It seems like this is far too common, but I don’t think Colorado is an exception,” Lloyd said.
Gun violence occurs in a variety of ways across the country, the most common being suicide, Lloyd said. While mass shootings hit the headlines, they cause fewer gun violence deaths in the country overall.
Shooting Monday was the second mass shot in the United States in less than a week after a gunman killed eight people, most of them women of Asian descent, in three spas in the Atlanta area.
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Rep. Joe Neguse, D-Colo., Whose Boulder district is a part, said in a statement that “tragic incidents of gun violence have plagued our country for far too long”.
Neguse said he was attending a high school near Columbine High School when the shooting occurred. Years later, he said he had a similar fear when his niece was in kindergarten and locked in the STEM school on the Highlands Ranch.
“Americans should feel safe in their grocery stores. They should feel safe in their schools, cinemas, and communities. As Congress ponders sensible measures to prevent gun violence, Americans – and Coloradans – are being murdered before our eyes.” Day after day, year after year, “added Neguse.
Senator John Hickenlooper, D-Colo., Told CNN that shooting Monday “gets you right back to Aurora”.
“You know, they say you’re heavy hearted. And what it really means that you can’t breathe. I feel so deeply for the people who worry about their loved ones, those who know they have a loved one lost someone or they were injured, “Hickenlooper told Don Lemon.
When asked by Lemon how Colorado “handles” multiple shootings in such a short amount of time, Hickenlooper replied, “In a way, you can’t handle it. You have to get through it somehow.”
“It’s really an attack on the entire community,” he added. “Especially after you’ve been through it a few times, your heart just gets heavier. It’s just harder to think, breathe, and function when you feel so deeply for the people who lost their lives and their families . “
Are Colorado’s Gun Laws To Blame?
The Giffords Law Center for the Prevention of Gun Violence gave Colorado’s gun laws a C + in its most recent annual gun law ranking.
With this score, however, it became the state with the 15th strongest weapons law according to the group’s ranking.
“Colorado has stricter gun laws than many states, but it still has significant room for improvement. The state has the 18th highest gun death rate,” the group said.
Firearms laws already in place in the state include a so-called “red flag” law, which allows a judge to seize firearms from people who are considered a risk to themselves or others, universal background checks, and a ban on magazines that apply more than 15 rounds.
“Colorado has taken steps to address gun violence more sensibly, especially in the last few years, but it’s not that law would solve gun violence,” Lloyd said.
According to the Denver Post, a judge in Boulder last week blocked enforcement of the city law that bans bans on firearms and assault-style magazines with more than 10 rounds. The judge cited a state law that forbids municipalities to enforce arms control measures more strictly than state or federal law.
Lloyd said preemption laws like the one in Colorado “undermine a basic duty of local officials to protect their voters.”
Boulder, for example, has a large college campus, so it’s possible local lawmakers wanted to take stronger measures to protect students there, Lloyd said.
“Local communities should be able to address all of the unique problems and threats they face,” she added.
There are no restrictions on attack-style firearms in Colorado, according to the Giffords Law Center. The state also doesn’t prohibit the open carrying of firearms, has no waiting time to purchase a firearm, and, according to Giffords Law Center, does not require gun owners or buyers to obtain a license.
Contributor: Mike James
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