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Boulder mass shooting: the latest tragic reason for increased gun control | COMMENTARY

A man carries an anti-gun sign at a makeshift memorial near King Soopers grocery store in Boulder, Colo., on Tuesday, March 23, 2021, following Monday's shooting at the store which left 10 people dead. Cities across the country have tried to adopt their own regulations. Boulder's ordinance was blocked in court shortly before the mass shooting.
A man carries an anti-gun sign at a makeshift memorial near King Soopers grocery store in Boulder, Colo., on Tuesday, March 23, 2021, following Monday's shooting at the store which left 10 people dead. Cities across the country have tried to adopt their own regulations. Boulder's ordinance was blocked in court shortly before the mass shooting. (Stephen Speranza/The New York Times)

What if Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa had never gotten his hands on the military style assault weapon police say he used in a murderous shooting spree this week at a Boulder, Colorado, grocery store that killed 10 people, including a police officer who left seven children behind? The Ruger AR-556 pistol was one of two guns found near Mr. Alissa when police apprehended him. Perhaps if the 21-year-old, who has been charged with 10 counts of first-degree murder, had not been able to buy the weapon six days earlier, we as a country wouldn’t be mourning the second mass shooting inside of a week, an act of violence that has become part of the culture of America and proven again that lives are less important than gun rights.

The city of Boulder tried to prevent this type of destruction from happening. In 2018, the city banned assault weapons like the military-style model carried by Mr. Alissa, only for the law to be challenged in court by the National Rifle Association. And now, the country finds itself again in mourning, and embroiled in a contentious debate about gun rights and whether restrictions would stop such crimes. This time we hope it doesn’t end the way it always does, with talk fading away until the next mass shooting.

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We can’t say it enough: It shouldn’t be simple to buy a gun in America; they are weapons designed to kill, and with their ownership comes a great level of responsibility. Their purchase should require hoops and hurdles to clear. And no one needs access to an assault-style weapon, unless they are on the front lines of a war zone. No one.

President Joe Biden demanded Tuesday that Congress once and for all ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. He also pressed the Senate to follow the lead of the House and immediately pass legislation that expands background checks on the sale of firearms, including one that extends the background check review period from three to 10 days and another that applies such checks to all gun buyers. It is what needs to be done to prevent further destructive, and often spontaneous, mass acts of violence and, as Mr. Biden said, to saves lives.

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But once again, any change is already at risk of derailment as Republicans dig in their heels on their staunch and narrow position of protecting Americans’ right to bear arms. Already, we have heard the typical deflective arguments: Weapons don’t commit crimes, people do, and stricter gun control won’t stop shootings. Gun stores are again bracing for a run on sales as Americans worrying their gun purchasing access will be legislated away. And where has this strategy of doubling down against common sense gun control measures gotten us? Ask all the people who don’t feel safe going to supermarket anymore. Ask the families of the victims in Colorado — and in Atlanta, where another shooter killed eight people six days earlier.

It is time Congress stop letting the NRA and supposed gun rights activists hold them hostage and twist a real need for gun safety into a false argument about abolishing the Second Amendment. Lawmakers must start listening to the people; research has consistently shown that most Americans want tighter restrictions. It is time that the country lose the distinction of having one of the highest rates of deaths from gun violence in the world.

If Congress isn’t prepared to take a strong stance, the White House has signaled it is. The Biden administration is exploring taking executive action, including classifying as firearms ghost guns, kits that allow a gun to be assembled from pieces, according to The New York Times. Another measure would fund community violence intervention programs, and another strengthen background checks. The administration may need to take such bold action, making sure it passes legal muster, to bypass another potential stalemate and get quick action on the gun restrictions the country so desperately needs.

The Baltimore Sun editorial board — made up of Opinion Editor Tricia Bishop, Deputy Editor Andrea K. McDaniels and writer Peter Jensen — offers opinions and analysis on news and issues relevant to readers. It is separate from the newsroom.

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