The Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday held the first in a series of hearings aimed at mitigating gun violence in the wake of two recent mass shootings within one week — first in Atlanta, Georgia, and then in Boulder, Colorado.
The hearing, which was scheduled before a suspected gunman opened fire in a Colorado supermarket, killing at least 10 people on Monday night, followed the passage of a gun safety bill by the House less than two weeks ago, that will likely face roadblocks in the Senate.
As Democrats sound off a fresh wave of calls for gun reform, Senate Republicans used the hearing to scapegoat protests taking place last summer under the banner of racial justice, suggesting that gun sales had skyrocketed in the wake of a riotous attack on the nation’s cities by those demonstrating against police brutality. In one instance, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) suggested that guns — which were used last week in a mass shooting that killed six women of Asian-descent and two others — were part of a broader effort to ensure that “vulnerable populations,” including women and people of color, can protect themselves amid efforts by Democrats to drain law enforcement of resources.
Witnesses, including a professional marksman and a former Texas state representative whose parents died by gunfire, also weaponized familiar dog-whistles about guns shielding the elderly from “thugs” and helping Americans secure their own safety in cases where so-called underfunded law enforcement are unable to respond quickly.
As the hearing took place, the Boulder police held a conference in which they announced the identity of the alleged shooter: 21-year-old Ahmad Alissa from Arvada, Colorado. They also revealed the names and ages of the nine victims of the shooting other than police officer Eric Talley.
Alissa is expected to be released from the hospital and booked into the Boulder County jail sometime today, according to Boulder County District Attorney Michael Dougherty.
Boulder Police Chief Maris Herold told reporters that investigators have still not determined a motive for the shooting.