EDITORIAL: Boulder, like Aurora, illustrates that gun violence is about the guns, not the places

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The new exterior of the Table Mesa King Soopers is shown during a media tour Tuesday, Feb. 8, 2022, in Boulder, Colo. Ten people were killed inside and outside the store when a gunman opened fire on March 22, 2021. The store reopens with new renovations on Wednesday, Feb. 9. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

In Boulder, like Aurora, life wins. Terrorism and murder lose.

Despite unfathomable pain and apprehension, King Soopers this week reopened the store in a Boulder neighborhood that not yet a year ago was the scene of a mass shooting. An Arvada gunman killed 10 people inside the store last March.

Boulder joined Aurora and a growing number of communities that not only suffer the atrocity of mass shootings, but the aftermath, too.

The pain and horror for the victims, their families and all of the community is beyond description and without limit.

Allowing ourselves to live with virtually unrestrained and unending gun violence and mass shootings illustrates a fundamentally broken society.

Just as tragic as our self-deceit and denial about the crisis is the fact that, rather than address it as a nation and as communities, we have chosen to find ways to live with our unique American sickness.

It means that each of us takes a risk each time we venture into a grocery store, our workplace, a movie theater and even a school.

It means that we have, as a society, resigned ourselves to accept and live with mass shootings and rampant gun violence as if they were nothing more than car crashes or severe weather.

It means that as we rack up more mass shootings in malls, military bases, nightclubs and even town squares, we have to decide what to do with these public venues after the unthinkable, and now inevitable, strikes again.

Columbine High School was among the first places in Colorado, and the nation, to be faced with the brutal reality of the aftermath of a mass shooting. What do you do with a school, a theater, a nightclub that has been the site of something so repugnant, so terrifying and so visceral?

The community of Columbine kept the school.

In Aurora, the decision for Cinemark on what to do with the theater that came to symbolize the horror of mass shootings wasn’t easy. 

What the Aurora community saw of the horrific maelstrom at the theater didn’t come close to the terror victims suffered, nor the terror that all of us have imagined as their stories unfolded, just like they did in Boulder.

But Cinemark, and most Aurora residents, including families of victims, wisely separated a sick, heinous bully from the place he committed his atrocity.

The theater didn’t commit these crimes. James Holmes did.

The theater and the grocery store weren’t witness to the melees. We were.

Like in Boulder, some victims and community members called for the theater and the grocery story to be razed.

It would only take away an empty building, not the loss nor the pain that the shooters unleashed in these places.

By giving in to the natural urge to simply blot out what’s too painful to see, in Aurora, we would only have allowed Holmes to claim yet another victim.

It was the same for Boulder.

Instead, Holmes and Boulder shooting suspect, Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa — who has currently been deemed mentally incompetent to stand trial at this time — have failed in terrorizing us any more than they did for the moments they drew guns against innocent people.

The owners of the Boulder grocery store, the Aurora theater and a growing number of other venues across the country have done their part to dull the terror and power guns provide and their abusers crave.

Rather than focus our justified wrath and disdain on the places where these mass shootings occur, we should focus on why we continue to permit these shootings to happen.

Gun violence isn’t about the places. It’s about the guns.

Ask the people who can do something about mass shootings and rampant gun violence to do something now. City council members, state lawmakers and members of Congress hold the power to reduce if not end America’s horrific scourge, but they won’t.

Returning public places to the public is about healing. Insisting on meaningful gun control is about prevention.

 

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Doug King
Doug King
7 months ago

To get meaningful gun control the 2nd amendment must first be properly interpreted once and for all. The citizens out there who are so concerned that someone is coming to take their guns should by now understand that it just isn’t the case. We also need to have a better means of getting guns off the streets and out of the hands of the gangs and teens as well as the mentally ill. That means we must accept encroachment into the 4th amendment to some degree….otherwise not much maybe nothing will ever change.

Susan Carr
Susan Carr
7 months ago
Reply to  Doug King

All federal gun laws are unconstitutional.

Jeff Ryan
Jeff Ryan
7 months ago
Reply to  Doug King

Second Amendment watchers, myself included, were apprehensive that a gun case would be accepted by the Court, given its growing “conservative” bent.

Those fears were realized when the Court accepted Heller. Scalia wound up creating an entirely imaginary “right” by ignoring the purpose of the amendment as written.

Factory Working Orphan
Factory Working Orphan
7 months ago
Reply to  Jeff Ryan

The law was overreach and Scalia was correct in his briefing. Also, LOL at “Second Amendment watchers,” as if any of the amendments in the Bill of Rights needs to be “watched” by a bunch of neurotic left-liberal bougies.

Last edited 7 months ago by Factory Working Orphan
Don Black
Don Black
7 months ago

While we debate things like this, we continue to ignore very real obstacles to our safety. The systemic racism scare that has now led to drastic changes in how we look at law enforcement and the justice system is crippling our ability to protect the public. The police reform bill has massive flaws and has led to police not doing their job and leaving in droves. The collective cowardice and dishonesty that allow that bill to go on undiscussed demonstrate the type of people who end up in positions of power. Couple that with the distorted judgment by prosecutors and some judges and you have a recipe for increased crime. I found, while a police officer, that there are better ways to police effectively. I also found that you could not get those long term solutions through the top management. Now, we will have difficulty executing any solution due to the poor judgment of those in power. We must reverse this present trend and start looking for long term solutions from people who do the job, not the chiefs. There are ways to do community policing that addresse the low level crimes suffered by all of you in your neighborhoods. Community policing as it is expressed by police chiefs amounts to feel good talk. Having the police stop enforcement of low level crimes and traffic to protect people of color creates an atmosphere of lawlessness. All of those routine stops for traffic and minor violations create a fear for the criminals that they will be stopped while they are wanted or in the act of committing a crime. The stolen car they are in will be used in crime. They also know that their gun may be found while they are being stopped. Naturally, we must put incarceration and punishment back into the system or there is no point to arresting criminals. Being popular as politician or a chief for your sensitive stance doesn’t help the rest of us.

Joe Felice
Joe Felice
7 months ago

“Allowing ourselves to live with virtually unrestrained and unending gun violence and mass shootings illustrates a fundamentally broken society.” Truer words were never spoken. But in many other instances, we also demonstrate how broken our society really is. Homelessness, education (or lack thereof), political dysfunction and failure to police all come to mind. We can ignore and fail to look for solutions while blaming each other, but we do so at our peril.

Susan Carr
Susan Carr
7 months ago

LOL! More muddle from the mind of a communist. If anything it appears restrictive gun laws correlate with higher gun violence.

Btw ALL federal gun laws violate the US constitution. Most gun laws violate the Colorado constitution.

Jeff Ryan
Jeff Ryan
7 months ago
Reply to  Susan Carr

That isn’t the law, and it never was the law. The Constitution isn’t a suicide pact. And the Second Amendment has nothing to do with gun possession unrelated to militia service.

john wilson
john wilson
7 months ago

You have got to be kidding me, so all those killed by knives is the fault of cookware? All those killed by a baseball bat is sports related? All killed in car accidents is the fault of auto racing?
Clearly the take from this is all drunk driving is the cars fault!

Last edited 7 months ago by john wilson
Justin
Justin
7 months ago

Maybe just start with enforcing the laws on the books and see what happens. Murder has been illegal for awhile and that doesn’t appear to be stopping the people comitting homicide.

Jeff Ryan
Jeff Ryan
7 months ago
Reply to  Justin

Especially since guns make it so much easier!