It happened again.
On early Monday afternoon, a gunman walked into the King Soopers grocery store in Boulder, Colorado and began opening fire. Eye-witness video from the incident shows bodies of shoppers lying on the ground as shots ring out from inside.
The attack killed at least ten people, including Boulder Police Officer Eric Talley, a father of seven. It is the deadliest mass shooting in the nation in almost three years.
According to a CNN interview with the Boulder Police Chief, the attacker, who will not be named in this article, was armed with “an AR-15 style rifle”.
Just ten days before the shooting, a federal judge struck down Boulder’s ban on semi-automatic weapons similar to the one used today. In a tweet last Tuesday, the NRA (National Rifle Association) lauded the decision as “something to celebrate”. Following today’s attack, the group simply tweeted the text of the Second Amendment.
A uniquely American problem
Survivors of today’s mass shooting spoke with local media and recounted a familiar mix of both shock and exhaustion. One man told Denver station KDVR “the fact that it’s happening all over America, seeing it on the news – it’s something I’ve grown up with. People my age, my generation, we’re ‘used to this’. It’s just never that I’d think would happen in my town.”
According to the Gun Violence Archive, this incident was just one of ten mass shootings (a shooting with four or more casualties, excluding the attacker) in the last seven days. This includes a domestic incident in Arizona that left four dead and the white supremacist terror attack in Georgia last Tuesday that killed eight.
On average, 100 people die from firearm related injuries every day in America. This loss of life to gun violence is greater in the U.S. than any other wealthy nation on the planet. A 2010 study by the American Journal of Medicine reviewed mortality data from the 23 highest income countries. It found that the US had a gun homicide rate 25 times higher than the average of the other nations. All told, the United States accounted for 82% of the gun violence deaths in all of these countries combined.
The ongoing push for policy change
Calls for reform have been growing once again following the Colorado shooting in Boulder and the attack on mostly Asian-Americans in Atlanta. Earlier this month, the US House of Representatives passed two bills expanding background checks and closing the “gun show loophole”.
H.R. 8 requires dealers to conduct a background check in order to complete any gun sale; including private sales and sales at guns shows. H.R. 1446 extends the background check review period from three to ten days and requires approval before the gun could be purchased. Both of these bills passed with bi-partisan support, but face uncertain futures in the US Senate.
With pandemic restrictions easing, Americans are beginning to move from living with the threat of the virus back to living with the threat of erratic violence. As the nation grieves the loss of life in two separate attacks over the past week, many again wonder whether anything will change.
“This cannot be our new normal,” Colorado congressman Joe Neguse said in a statement. “We must address the gun violence in our country.”