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Biden calls for assault weapons ban as he mourns lives lost in Colorado, Georgia

Biden calls for assault weapons ban as he mourns lives lost in Colorado, Georgia
In the wake of Monday’s shooting in Boulder, Colo. President Biden is calling on lawmakers to enact measures to address gun violence in the United States. (Photo by Patrick Semansky/AP Photo)

In the wake of Monday’s shooting in Boulder, Colo., that left 10 people dead, President Biden is calling on lawmakers to enact measures to address gun violence in the United States as he and other prominent figures express grief for the victims.

Biden spoke about the shooting Tuesday afternoon, saying he has spoken with Attorney General Merrick Garland, the director of the FBI, and the governor of Colorado, and is set to speak with the mayor of Boulder.

“Ten lives have been lost, more families have been shattered by gun violence in the state of Colorado,” Biden said. “Jill and I are devastated. And I can’t imagine how the families are feeling, the victims whose futures were stolen from them, from their families from their loved ones who now have to struggle to go on, try to make sense of what’s happened. Less than a week after the horrific murders of eight people, and the assault on the AAPI community in Georgia, while the flag was still flying half staff, with a tragedy in other American cities that have been scarred by gun violence, and the resulting trauma. I hate to say it because we’re saying it so often, my heart goes out.”

Biden also thanked the first responders who responded to the scene and commended the bravery of Boulder Police Officer Eric Talley, who was killed in the shooting and leaves behind seven children.


“He thought he’d be coming home to his family and his seven children,” Biden said. When the moment to act came, Officer Talley did not hesitate in his duty, making the ultimate sacrifice in his effort to save lives. That’s the definition of an American hero.”

Biden said that while “we’re still waiting for more information regarding the shooter, his motive, the weapons he used, the guns, the magazines the weapons the modifications that apparently have taken place to this weapons involved here,” he urged members of Congress to act to ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines and close loopholes in the background check system.


“This is not and should not be a partisan issue,” Biden said. “This is an American issue. It will save lives, American lives. We have to act.”

Biden also ordered flags at the White House and federal buildings to fly at half staff in a tribute to the victims.

Police on Tuesday identified the suspect, who has been charged with 10 counts of murder, and victims of the shooting at a supermarket in the city about 25 miles outside of Denver. The attack comes less than a week after eight people, most of whom were women of Asian descent, were killed during shootings at three Atlanta-area spas.

Vice President Kamala Harris said Tuesday morning the shooting was “absolutely tragic.”

“Ten people going about their day, living their lives, not bothering anybody,” Harris said when reporters asked her about the shooting. “A police officer who was performing his duties and with great courage and heroism. Seven children I understand. Tragic, it’s tragic.”

In a statement Tuesday morning, former president Barack Obama said in addition to grieving along with the loved ones of those killed in the attacks in Atlanta and Boulder, he and his wife, Michelle, also feel “a deep, familiar outrage that we as a nation continue to tolerate these kinds of random, senseless acts day in and day out without taking any significant action.”


“In so many ways, our lives may soon start to return to normal after a long, difficult year filled with so much loss,” the statement said. “But in a normal life, we should be able to buy groceries without fear. We should be able to go to school, or go out with our friends, or worship together without mentally planning our escape if someone shows up with a gun. We should be able to live our lives without wondering if the next trip outside our home could be our last. We should. But in America, we can’t.”

“A once-in-a-century pandemic cannot be the only thing that slows mass shootings in this country,” the statement continued. “We shouldn’t have to choose between one type of tragedy and another. It’s time for leaders everywhere to listen to the American people when they say enough is enough—because this is a normal we can no longer afford.”

There had been a lull in mass killings during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, which had the smallest number of attacks in eight years, according to the Violence Project, which maintains a database of shootings in which at least four people were killed. At the same time, 2020 was a record-breaking year for gun violence deaths overall, according to the Gun Violence Archive, with nearly 40,000 people killed.

Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren called on members of her party to “get rid of the filibuster and pass gun safety legislation that a huge majority of Americans support” in a tweet Tuesday morning.


Warren’s call to eliminate the filibuster was echoed by Massachusetts Senator Ed Markey. He also said he agreed with remarks Biden made calling for the Senate to pass gun safety legislation that has cleared the House.

Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey said in a tweet Tuesday afternoon that the attack was preventable and “will only keep happening until commonsense gun laws are the law of the land.”

In a statement released Monday night, Colorado Governor Jared Polis said the state is mourning the “senseless killing” of the 10 victims and “our sense of safety in our local grocery store.”

Colorado Senator Michael Bennet said in a tweet Monday night that “it’s long past time for Congress to take meaningful action to keep deadly weapons out of the wrong hands.”

Former Secretary of State and Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton said in a tweet Tuesday morning that “we simply can’t let this continue to be who we are.”

Amanda Kaufman can be reached at amanda.kaufman@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @amandakauf1.