After back-to-back shootings, members of Congress from Colorado clash on policy response

Rep. Lauren Boebert: ‘You can’t legislate away evil’

By: - May 25, 2022 3:49 pm

A child crosses under caution tape at Robb Elementary School on May 25, 2022, in Uvalde, Texas. According to reports, during the mass shooting, 19 students and 2 adults were killed, with the gunman fatally shot by law enforcement. (Brandon Bell/Getty Images)

As people around the world shared visceral reactions to a mass shooting Tuesday night in Uvalde, Texas, members of Colorado’s congressional delegation weighed in on the carnage that left 19 children and two adults dead at an elementary school. Some elected officials called for undefined action to reduce gun violence, while others offered prayers for the families of those massacred.

News of the shooting at an Uvalde elementary came with many still reeling from another mass shooting in Buffalo, New York, where 10 people were killed and three others were injured at a Tops Friendly Market store. Police have said the Buffalo shooting was racially motivated, with the alleged shooter having expressed views in line with the racist and xenophobic “great replacement” theory.

Assault-style weapons and mass shootings

Democratic U.S. lawmakers from Colorado called for a legislative response to the back-to-back mass tragedies.

“There is no legitimate reason why any civilian in this country needs an AR-15-style assault weapon,” U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette of Denver said on Twitter Wednesday morning. “None.”

A 10-year federal ban on assault-style weapons, instituted in 1994 under then-President Bill Clinton, expired in 2004. Since then, congressional efforts to bring back the ban have failed.

Following a mass shooting where 10 people were murdered at a Boulder King Soopers last year, some state lawmakers called for a statewide ban on assault weapons. Such legislation was never introduced, but the Colorado General Assembly did pass a law in 2021 that allowed cities and counties to pass local firearm restrictions that went further than the state’s. This paved the way for Boulder to re-introduce a ban on assault-style weapons similar to one that had been struck down days prior to the shooting.

“My heart breaks for the parents and students in Uvalde,” Rep. Joe Neguse, a Lafayette Democrat whose district includes Boulder, said on Twitter Tuesday. “We owe it to our children — and every child in America — to put an end to these senseless and terrible tragedies,” Neguse added.

A ‘national disgrace’

“I’m done with moments of silence,” Rep. Jason Crow, an Aurora Democrat, tweeted Tuesday night. “I’m here for serious policy convos on this national disgrace.”

Last week, Crow joined Democratic Caucus Chairman Hakeem Jeffries of New York, Rep. Katie Porter, a California Democrat, and Rep. Haley Stevens, a Michigan Democrat, to introduce legislation meant to crack down on online sellers of unlicensed firearms. The bill was assigned to the House Energy and Commerce Committee but had not been scheduled for a hearing as of Wednesday.

Rep. Lauren Boebert, a Silt Republican who represents Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District, had a different take.

“You can’t legislate away evil,” Boebert said on her personal Twitter account Wednesday morning, apparently referring to the Uvalde shooter, who police have said is dead, or mass-shooting perpetrators in general.

That drew a sharp response from New York’s Democratic U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

“Why even be in Congress if you don’t believe in doing your job?” Ocasio-Cortez said in response to Boebert’s tweet. “Just quit and let someone who actually gives a damn do it instead of acting like a useless piece of furniture when babies are shot with AR15s that we let teen boys impulse buy before they can legally have a beer.”

“Let me know when you’re ready to do your job and effectively protect our schools with armed security,” Boebert retorted. “Let’s meet and solve this.”

Prayers for victims

On her official congressional Twitter account, Boebert mourned the “loss of innocent life.”

“My heart goes out to the friends and families of the 15 dead in Uvalde, Texas,” Boebert said Tuesday evening, referring to the official death toll at the time. “It is in times like these that we should, as individuals, communities, and as a nation, turn to God for comfort and healing.”

In a statement provided to Newsline, Republican U.S. Rep. Ken Buck of Windsor shared a somber perspective.

“There are no words in human speech to express the grief and heartache of the loss of these innocent lives,” Buck said. “My prayers are with the victims, their families, and all impacted by these deadly and senseless attacks.”

Republican Rep. Doug Lamborn of Colorado Springs did not post on social media about either of the mass shootings. Newsline requested comment from Lamborn’s office but had not received a response by this article’s publication time.

Those lost in mass shootings represent a fraction of the total number of gun violence victims in the United States. According to the Gun Violence Archive, on Tuesday alone, 23 people died in isolated incidents of gun violence across the United States — on top of the 22 lost in the massacre at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde. Among the victims were a 15-year-old boy who was shot and killed in Akron, Ohio, and a 22-year-old man shot and killed in Louisville, Kentucky.

“Today’s tragedy is unthinkable,” Democratic U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter of Lakewood, who represents Colorado’s 7th Congressional District, tweeted Tuesday evening. “We cannot lose more children or loved ones. We must find a way to solve our country’s gun violence epidemic and save lives.”

Echoes of the past

Colorado’s U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet shared a video of a speech he gave after the Boulder mass shooting last year. “My daughter’s generation will always bear the burden of a national government that did nothing to protect them,” Bennet said in the speech.

“It pains me that these words are just as true today,” he said in a Tuesday tweet accompanying the video. “We must do whatever we can to end the scourge of gun violence in America. There’s nobody else to act but the United States Senate.”

U.S. Sen. John Hickenlooper, former governor and junior senator from Colorado, made reference to the 2021 Boulder shooting and the 2012 massacre at an Aurora movie theater, where 12 people were slaughtered during Hickenlooper’s first term as Colorado governor.

“We’re approaching the 10th anniversary of the Aurora, Colorado mass shooting where 70 people were injured and 12 murdered on an ordinary night at the movies,” Hickenlooper said in a written statement Tuesday. “One year ago, 10 more Coloradans were killed while shopping for groceries. A white supremacist targeted another supermarket just days ago in Buffalo, New York. And today, children slaughtered in Texas.

“How many shootings are enough before we stop terrorizing our children and our families?”

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Faith Miller
Faith Miller

Reporter Faith Miller covers the Colorado Legislature, immigration and other stories for Colorado Newsline.

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