One week prior to the shooting at a Boulder, Colorado, grocery store on Monday that left 10 people dead, the National Rifle Association (NRA) was celebrating a Colorado judge’s ruling that ended a ban on assault weapons in that same city.
Then, hours after the shooting took place on Monday afternoon, the conservative gun rights organization appeared to rub salt in the wounds of grieving families by sending out a tweet with the text of the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution.
The Boulder city assault weapons ban was passed in 2018 and had been in effect until earlier this month when Boulder County District Court Judge Andrew Hartman ruled that it was incompatible with a state law passed in 2003 that forbids municipalities from enacting ordinances that go against state standards on gun ownership. The ban had restricted the possession, sale and transfer of assault rifles and large-capacity magazines, imposing up to $1,000 in fines and 90 days in jail for those who violated the law.
The city may appeal the ruling to the State Supreme Court, though it’s unclear whether it would be successful in doing so.
In 2006, a similar law in Denver was upheld by an appellate court. Upon appeal to the state’s highest court, the Supreme Court deadlocked in a 3-3 decision, with one justice of the court abstaining, resulting in the appellate decision and Denver’s ban remaining in place.
The NRA has applauded the Hartman ruling for being written in a way that will “make it even harder to overturn, should the city appeal it.”
The shooting in Boulder on Monday marks the seventh mass shooting to take place in the past seven days. Ten individuals were killed and several injured at the King Sooper grocery store just miles south of the University of Colorado. One suspect was apprehended after being injured during the shooting and has since been identified as 21-year-old Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa, though no motive is known at this time. Police officers said that the shooter used an AR-15-style rifle, per reporting from CNN.
The prevalence of that style of rifle in mass shootings across the country have reignited widespread calls to ban assault rifles. Indeed, a recent poll from Gallup shows that a majority of Americans, 56 percent, are dissatisfied with the country’s gun laws.
Activists, however, contend that passing new legislation banning certain types of guns is not likely to end gun violence or incidents such as these. Writing for Truthout in an op-ed from 2018, socialist activist Danny Katch explained that local laws focused on criminalizing individual gun ownership often end up being used to justify further policing and surveillance of communities already disproportionately targeted by the police, while doing little to actually reduce gun violence.
“Many anti-gun measures implemented in cities like New York City and Chicago have further criminalized entire Black and Brown communities, while exacerbating the social conditions that breed violent crime,” Katch wrote.
Rather than promote such measures, “We need to disentangle those that would lead to increased repression and surveillance and those that would reduce the power of weapons manufacturers and the gun fundamentalists,” he added.
“Not only do we need to argue that government criminalization and repression aren’t the solution to gun violence — we have to argue that they are actually part of that violence, and that the movement should fight for undoing mass incarceration and the militarization of police departments,” wrote Katch.
A more effective approach to reducing gun violence would involve dismantling the influence of the gun industry itself, wrote employment, civil rights and land use attorney Ramsin Canon in an article for Truthout in 2019:
If guns are flooding our streets — and there is no doubt they are, as there are currently more guns than people in the U.S. — the problem cannot be “people,” but capital: the industry manufacturing the guns. Any attempt at a gun-control policy aimed at purchasers is almost certainly going to burden mostly working-class people and in particular, working-class people of color.
“True gun control,” Canon added, “should go after the industry that mobilizes its immense wealth and social power to protect itself. Attack the problem at its source.”