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Former Washington Journalist
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After another in the long march of deadly mass shootings across the nation — this one claiming 10 lives at a Colorado supermarket — some are willing to settle for more of the usual bromides.
Others, however, very definitely are not — and these back-to-back rampages, in Georgia and then Colorado, has begun to animate the new Democratic power structures in Washington DC and elsewhere.
“I’m so sick of prayers and thoughts. You know, I’ve walked off the House floor when we do these moment of silence, because it’s so hypocritical. There’s no willingness to do more for all the people that are left with the anguish of not having their loved one or who have been shot up and wounded,” said Rep Jackie Speier (D-Calif), herself shot and gravely wounded in the Jonestown massacre during the late 1970s. “Every day, 100 people die and 200 people are wounded in the United States, living with scars for the rest of their lives.”
Speier is not alone. President Biden’s pledged to take whatever executive action is available to him to curb gun violence, but he’s also strongly pushing Congress to pass gun safety legislation.
Asked whether he had the political capital to take on gun reform, Biden replied, ” “I hope so. I don’t know, I haven’t done the counting yet.”
Congressional Republicans are not embracing such reform.
“To Senator [Ted] Cruz [R-Texas], I would say thoughts and prayers are good, but they are not enough,” said Sen Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn). “And after every one of these shootings, my Republican colleagues say that they are offering thoughts and prayers, but then they oppose common sense constitutional measures to separate people from guns when those people are dangerous.
“You know, a shooter in Atlanta is just a misogynist and a racist, except when armed with a gun, and then he becomes a monster and a mass murderer. In Boulder, that shooter was a deeply disturbed man who became a mass killer because he had an assault weapon that could kill people with the efficiency and speed meant for the battlefield,” Blumenthal added. “So, guns make all of these serious problems even more fatally and deadly, especially for domestic violence victims who then can be killed, five times more likely be killed in those situations. That’s why we need to make sure that we adopt these common sense measures.”
Closer to the latest massacre, Colorado state Attorney General Phil Weiser (D) offered his own policy prescription.
“We in Colorado have a background check law. But if people go to surrounding states, they can get a weapon without having a background check. That is a common sense measure that’s supported by overwhelming majorities,” Weiser said. “The fact that we didn’t get such a law after prior mass shootings is hard to understand. We need a federal law. I know that our members of Congress from Colorado have run on this issue, are committed to this issue.
“We need a national background check law because otherwise people can go to surrounding states and get a weapon without having to go through a background check which makes sense,” he added.
Sam Weaver, mayor of Boulder, Colo, offered a more-basic idea.
“Well, of course, everyone in Boulder will appreciate hearing from the president, and I think that the one message that I have for lawmakers is: You know, the consequences of us not having control over military-grade weapons in the hands of who knows who has them is that people will be killed, and we’ve experienced that, and, you know, as you probably know, we passed an assault weapons ban in Boulder in 2018, and that was recently overturned by a Colorado district court judge,” Weaver said.
“We, of course, intend to probably appeal that, but I guess the real message is cities can’t handle this problem,” he added. “Rules need to come from the state and the federal level so what I’ll be sharing with the president, if I speak to him, is that we would really appreciate his support. And the interview he gave today indicates that he’s with us and we really need everyone to — to make their voices heard at this time.”
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