The National Rifle Association (NRA) recently boasted about helping to block a ban on assault-style rifles in Boulder, Colo., less than two weeks before 10 people were killed in a mass shooting at a grocery store in the city.
One person was arrested in connection with the mass shooting in Boulder on Monday. Authorities did not immediately provide details of the weapon used, but a senior law enforcement source told CNN that it was an AR-15-style rifle.
The shooting occurred days after a Colorado judge blocked Boulder from enforcing a two-year ban on assault-style rifles in the city. The judge ruled that the ban violated an older state law that prohibits municipalities from making their own firearms rules.
The city said at the time that it would consider appealing the ruling, according to the Denver Post, but police said they would not enforce the ban while the case remained unresolved.
Boulder City Council originally passed two ordinances banning assault weapons and large-capacity magazines in 2018. The ban was a direct response to the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., which left 17 people dead.
The NRA celebrated the ruling as victory on its website and on social media last week.
“A Colorado judge gave law-abiding gun owners something to celebrate,” the NRA tweeted. “He ruled that the city of Boulder’s ban on commonly-owned rifles (AR-15s) and 10+ round mags was preempted by state law and STRUCK THEM DOWN.”
The Colorado shooting has sparked another wave of calls for gun control in the United States, as well as a fresh round of backlash against the NRA.
“What happened in Colorado yesterday was predictable and preventable,” Fred Guttenberg, an anti-gun activist and father of a Parkland victim, tweeted on Tuesday. “This is why we have to stop the NRA,” he wrote, along with a screenshot of the NRA’s tweet about the ban.
“Boulder shooter carried an AR-15,” actor Mia Farrow tweeted before that detail had been confirmed. “No civilian needs to own or carry such a weapon.”
Thousands joined Farrow in echoing the hashtag #GunReformNow.
The NRA did not directly address the backlash. Instead it doubled down on its defence of the Second Amendment.
“A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed,” the NRA tweeted, quoting the Second Amendment within hours of Monday’s shooting.
Critics highlighted the phrase “well-regulated” in response to the tweet, and suggested that it should mean greater gun control regulations in the U.S.
In addition to the NRA backlash, police also faced criticism for their response to the mass shooter.
Many accused police of a double standard after the mass shooting suspect was arrested alive following an extended siege at the supermarket. Some compared the incident to the death of Elijah McClain, a Black man who died days after Colorado police put him in a chokehold in 2019, not far from the site of the mass shooting in Boulder. He was not accused of any crimes, but police had stopped him based on a 911 report of a “sketchy” person near a convenience store.
Hundreds of police officers from the Denver area responded to Monday’s incident at the King Soopers supermarket. SWAT officers and heavily-armoured vehicles were also used to end the siege and save most of the people inside the store.
The suspect faces 10 charges of first-degree murder.
— With files from The Associated Press