Assault Weapons Ban in Boulder Blocked in Court Days Before Supermarket Shooting

A judge said in a ruling earlier this month that the city couldn't enforce the ordinance banning assault weapons and large-capacity magazines.


Image via Getty/Chet Strange


An assault weapons and large-capacity magazines ban in Boulder was blocked in court earlier this month, just days before a mass shooting in the Colorado city left 10 people dead.

Boulder County District Court Judge Andrew Hartman said in a ruling on March 12 that the city couldn’t enforce the ordinance banning the possession, transfer, or sale of assault weapons and large-capacity magazines because—in his words—only state or federal law can make such a call.

As detailed in a Denver Post report from Elise Schmelzer at the time, the ordinances were passed by the Boulder City Council in 2018 following the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. That shooting, which left 17 people dead, spurred nationwide protests in support of gun law reform.

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On Monday, a man killed 10 people at a King Soopers supermarket in Boulder. Among those killed was 51-year-old local police officer Eric Talley, who was the first on the scene. A suspect, who was identified during a press conference on Tuesday, is in custody and facing multiple counts of murder in the first degree. While details remain scarce, early information—including from police—described the weapon used by the suspect as a rifle.

Teo Armus of the Washington Post, who was among those on Tuesday highlighting the fact that the assault weapons ban had recently been blocked, noted in a report that police have not addressed further specifics on the weapon nor have they said whether the ordinance in question would have stopped him from purchasing or possessing it in Boulder.

Given the timing of the Boulder County District Court Judge’s decision, many have pointed to it as the latest example of gun law reform facing political opposition despite the notorious proliferation of gun violence across the U.S.

In a tweeted statement shared Monday night, Kris Brown—president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence nonprofit—pointed to both the Boulder shooting and this month’s Atlanta-area spa attacks as a sign that a Senate hearing set for this week “could not come soon enough.”  

This Senate hearing could not come soon enough.

8 people were killed last Tuesday. 10 people killed today. And we cannot forget the thousands more people shot, injured, and killed in just the 6-day span between these two high-profile massacres.

We need #GunReformNow.

— Kris Brown | President, (@KrisB_Brown) March 23, 2021

Despite popular belief, last year was actually one of the deadliest years in decades in terms of gun violence, the Washington Postreports. Over 19,000 people were killed in shootings and gun-related incidents in 2020, marking a drastic increase in gun violence and crime. As Time points out, that’s the highest death toll in over 20 years, according to data from the Gun Violence Archive (GVA).

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