After recording a year with the lowest level of public mass shootings in more than a decade, the United States suffered its second such incident in less than a week on Monday night with a shooting at a Colorado grocery store that killed 10, including a police officer.
Gun safety advocates called for immediate action by Congress to address the resurgent national epidemic as the country emerges from a year of lockdowns and social distancing caused by the coronavirus pandemics.
“This is the time to make our position. NOW,” tweeted Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut, where a shooter killed 26 people at an elementary school in 2012.
A male suspect was arrested at the scene, a King Soopers grocery store in Boulder, Colorado. Police did not name the suspect or describe a motive at a news conference Monday night.
“This is a tragedy and a nightmare for Boulder County, and in response, we have the cooperation and assistance of local, state and federal authorities,” said Boulder County District Attorney Michael Dougherty.
The Colorado attack brought the death toll from mass public shootings to 18 for the week after a gunman killed eight people in three massage parlors in the Atlanta area last Tuesday. Six of the victims were women of Asian descent, and that attack sparked a national demand for reckoning with discrimination and violence directed at Asian Americans.
While the use of racist scapegoats by Donald Trump and others sparked thousands of attacks on Asian Americans during America’s pandemic year, 2020 was unusually quiet for mass public shootings, according to a database maintained by Associated Press, USA Today, and Northeastern University.
There were 10 such shootings in 2018 and nine in 2019, according to the database, which tracks public incidents in which at least four people were killed, not including the shooter.
The United States suffered only two such incidents in 2020, both at the beginning of the year, before the spread of the coronavirus led to local economic and school closures and related restrictions.
Gun sales spiked during the pandemic, sparking fears of a return to mass gun violence after coronavirus restrictions were eased. Those fears appear to have been fulfilled in March.
“We have had a horrible year as a country, as a world,” the Colorado State Senate said. Majority Leader Stephen Fenberg, a Democrat, told MSNBC Monday night, in comments noted by Axios. “I had finally started to feel like things were getting back to ‘normal.’ And sadly, we’re reminded that that includes mass shootings. “
The police officer killed in the Colorado store attack, Eric Talley, 51, a father of seven, was the first to respond to reports of shooting at the store, authorities said.
Talley was “by all accounts one of the top officers in the Boulder Police Department, and his life was too short,” said Dougherty, the county attorney.
The attack came just days after a judge blocked Boulder imposed a two-year ban on assault weapons and large-capacity magazines in the city.
“The court has determined that only Colorado state (or federal) law can prohibit the possession, sale and transfer of assault weapons and large capacity magazines,” wrote county-level judge Andrew Hartman, according to the denver post.
While no state has been affected by mass shootings, Colorado has had an especially difficult history of mass shootings, beginning with an attack on students at a Columbine high school in 1999 that killed 13. In Aurora in 2012, a man The gunman fired into a crowd watching a moving Batman, killing 12 and wounding 58 with gunfire.
As previously scheduled, the Senate judicial committee was to hold a hearing Tuesday on “constitutional and common sense measures to reduce gun violence.” Gun safety legislation has failed to gain ground in the United States Congress despite broad public agreement on certain safeguards, such as universal background checks.
“Gun violence is an epidemic within the pandemic, from Boulder yesterday to Atlanta last week to the dozens more people in the United States who are shot every day but whose stories are not making headlines,” said John Feinblatt, Everytown president for Gun Safety.
“To save lives and end these senseless killings, we need more than thoughts and prayers; We need federal action on Senate gun safety, and we need it now. That work begins with this hearing and we cannot rest until we pass the background check into law. “
Murphy, who is not on that committee but mounted a nearly 15-hour filibuster in the Senate in 2016 to promote gun safety legislation after 49 people were killed in a mass shooting at a gay nightclub in Florida, he asked his colleagues to finally address gun violence.
Murphy invoked Monday’s shooting in Boulder, a mass shooting at a Florida high school in 2018 that killed 17 people and the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.
“No more Newtowns. No more Parklands. No more boulders, ”he tweeted. “Now, we make our position.”
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism