Colorado mass shooting puts spotlight on assault weapons
President Joe Biden is advocating for the Senate to pass two background-check bills after 10 people, including a police officer, were killed in a mass shooting Monday in Boulder, Colorado.
Prior to the shooting at King Soopers grocery store and the series of murders earlier this month in Atlanta, the House of Representatives passed House Resolution 8 and House Resolution 1446 on March 11.
H.R. 8, known as the Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2021, would make the private sales of guns illegal without a licensed dealer to run background checks.
H.R. 1446, the Enhanced Background Checks Act of 2021, closes the “Charleston Loophole,” which allows the sale of guns after three business days even without a completed background check.
The loophole infamously allowed Dylann Roof, who would not have passed a background check, to purchase a gun. Days later, he murdered nine black churchgoers in South Carolina in 2015.
H.R. 1446 first passed in the house in 2019 but didn’t make it to the Senate floor.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-New York, vowed to bring both bills to the Senate but did not give a timeline when asked by CNN Tuesday.
U.S. Rep. Salud Carbajal, D-Santa Barbara, voted in favor of both bills.
“You should be able go to work, school, or the grocery store without living in fear of gun violence. I’ve voted to expand background checks, close loopholes, & introduced a bill to temporarily disarm individuals in crisis. If we enact these laws, we can save lives,” Rep. Carbajal tweeted Tuesday.
Monday’s tragedy occurred 10 days after a Colorado judge lifted an assault weapons ban in Boulder.
The suspect purchased a Ruger AR-556 March 16, according to national reports. The gun is legally classified as a pistol (because its barrel is less than 16 inches) but shares many features of AR-15 rifles.
The gun was prohibited in the now-void ban by the city of Boulder, according to a Denver Post report.
The gun is illegal in California as part of the state’s assault weapons ban.
Police did not specify the gun used in Monday’s shooting.
On Tuesday, President Biden gave remarks on the Colorado shooting and said he wouldn’t speculate as to why the shooting occurred until he had all the information.
“But I do know this: As President, I can use all the resources at my disposal to keep the American people safe,” he said. “As I said: At this moment, a great deal remains unknown. But three things are certain. First, 10 lives have been lost, and more families have been shattered by gun violence in the state of Colorado. And Jill and I are devastated. And the feeling — I just can’t imagine how the families are feeling — the victims whose futures were stolen from them, from their families, from their loved ones who now have to struggle to go on and try to make sense of what’s happened. Less than a week after the horrific murders of eight people and the assault on the AAPI community in Georgia, while the flag was still flying half-staff for the tragedy, another American city has been scarred by gun violence and the resulting trauma.”
President Biden commended Officer Eric Talley, who was killed in the shooting, and offered condolences to his family and seven children.
“You know, when he pinned on that badge yesterday morning, he didn’t know what the day would bring,” President Biden said. “I want everybody to think about this: Every time an officer walks out of his or her home and pins that badge on, a family member that they just said goodbye to wonders whether they’ll — subconsciously — will they get that call. The call that his wife got. He thought he’d be coming home to his family and his seven children. But when the moment to act came, Officer Talley did not hesitate in his duty, making the ultimate sacrifice in his effort to save lives.
“That’s a definition of an American hero.”
The other victims have been identified as: Kevin Mahoney, 61; Teri Leiker, 51; Rikki Olds, 25; Lynn Murray, 62; Tralona Barkowiak, 49; Suzanne Fountain, 59; Denny Stong, 20; Jody Waters, 65; and Neven Stanisic, 23.
The suspect, 21-year-old Ahmad Al Aliwi Alisa, is facing 10 counts of murder in the first degree, police said Tuesday.
President Biden added that while the motive remains unclear, the reports of the modifications used on the firearm should not be permitted.
“I don’t need to wait another minute, let alone an hour, to take common sense steps that will save … lives in the future and to urge my colleagues in the House and Senate to act,” he said.
“We can ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines in this country once again,” President Biden added. “I got that done when I was a senator. It passed. It was law for the longest time, and it brought down these mass killings. We should do it again.”
Mr. Biden was asked if he would be introducing new gun legislation, and replied that he would discuss it at a later date.