On March 24, a King Soopers grocery store in Boulder, Colorado surrounds a tape that killed ten people in a shooting on Monday. State Democrats now say they will consider a nationwide ban on assault weapons. Michael Ciaglo / Getty Images Hide caption
Michael Ciaglo / Getty Images
Michael Ciaglo / Getty Images
Colorado could be the next state to consider banning “assault-style” weapons, Colorado Public Radio has learned, although discussions in the state capital are still ahead and no laws have been passed.
Ten people were killed in the mass shootings on Monday at a King Soopers grocery store in Boulder, and state lawmakers are grappling with possible measures to prevent such shootings from occurring. In Colorado, Democrats control the legislative and executive branches of state government.
“I’m devastated,” says Steve Fenberg, majority leader in the Democratic Senate. Born and raised in Boulder, he represents the Senate District where the shooting took place.
“This is my grocery store. This is one block from where my wife teaches middle school and her students have lunch,” says Fenberg. “It’s my job to solve solutions through politics. And that’s why it’s not too early. Frankly, it’s too late, especially for these 10 innocent lives.”
Fenberg and other Democratic leaders say they are excited to see a federal assault ban. Although President Biden called for it on Tuesday, Fenberg is not optimistic that Congress will act. The US Senate is currently considering two less comprehensive measures.
“There is no question that the real solution has to come from the federal government. A patchwork of laws is better than nothing, but clearly if someone wants to cause harm and we have strict regulations in Colorado, someone can drive an hour and half an hour to Wyoming, “says Fenberg. “The point is not to end the gun violence tomorrow, but to prevent some of these tragedies and shape them so that we can stay longer than a week before the next tragedy.”
Colorado gun laws have passed so far
Colorado has passed several gun laws in the past decade: a ban on high-capacity magazines, universal background checks, and a gun bill known as a “red flag”. Opponents of stricter laws say these measures violate Second Amendment rights, weigh on law-abiding gun owners, and fail to prevent mass shootings.
In the past, opponents of bans on certain types of weapons have criticized them as unenforceable and often not associated with the nuances of firearm styles.
“We haven’t seen any Democratic text on assault weapons, but I’ll say we find bans ineffective and that they end up punishing good, law-abiding Coloradans,” said Republican Senator John Cooke, a former sheriff.
According to Cooke, Senate Republicans plan to respond to the Boulder shooting by pushing for a “massive investment” in mental health services.
“Something is troubled in the American collective psyche,” says Republican Senator Paul Lundeen. “People hurt – and we have to do everything we can to address it.”
Republican MP Matt Soper said he heard rumors of a possible bill banning certain types of weapons across the state after the shooting at Boulder. He said there would be strong opposition from the GOP.
“We shouldn’t react to these tragedies,” he says, warning that such a ban would likely be unconstitutional. “The political divide over guns has widened and there is a lot of emotion on both sides.”
Colorado’s own constitution protects individual gun ownership: “The right of no one to keep and wear guns in defense of his or her home, person or property, or in support of civil power, when summoned by law is called into question.”
However, the state’s Supreme Court has upheld previous gun laws as legal under this provision.
Two arms bills are making their way through this year’s legislative period. One proposal would require the safe storage of firearms in many cases and the other would require people to report lost and stolen weapons. Both have passed their first chamber so far almost exclusively on party line votes.
The boulder shoot is the largest mass shoot in Colorado since 2012. The state has some of the most mass shoots in the country, starting with the attack on Columbine High School in 1999.