The Senate Judiciary Committee, confronted with the mass shootings of 18 people in two states within the span of a week, will hold a hearing on the problem of gun violence on Tuesday morning as advocates of regulation raise a familiar plea for Congress to act.
Only hours after the shooting in Boulder, Colo., on Monday night, signs of a familiar partisan divide on guns began to appear. Some Democrats called for action, including the Senate majority leader, Chuck Schumer, who said, “This Senate must and will move forward on legislation to help stop the epidemic of gun violence.”
Some Republicans, including Representative Lauren Boebert, who made supporting gun owners’ rights a key part of her agenda while running for office in Colorado, expressed sympathy for the victims. “May God be with us as we make sense of this senseless violence, and may we unify and not divide during this time,” she said.
Advocacy groups quickly responded. The group Everytown for Gun Safety said the shooting in Boulder was at least the 246th mass shooting in the United States since January 2009, and that on average 805 people die by gun violence in Colorado every year.
“This is yet another in a long string of horrific tragedies, from Boulder today to Atlanta last week to the dozens more people in the United States who are shot every day,” said John Feinblatt, the president of Everytown for Gun Safety, in a statement. “To save lives and end these senseless killings, we need more than thoughts and prayers — we need federal action on gun safety from the Senate and the administration.”
Gabrielle Giffords, the former representative from Arizona who was shot a decade ago, wrote on Twitter: “It’s been 10 years and countless communities have faced something similar. This is not normal.” She added, “It’s beyond time for our leaders to take action.”
A representative of her group, the Giffords Law Center To Prevent Gun Violence, was to speak at the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, on a witness list that includes a fellow from the conservative group Heritage Foundation and the police chief of Waterbury, Conn., among others.
President Biden had been briefed on the shooting in Boulder and would be kept apprised of any further developments, the White House press secretary, Jen Psaki, tweeted on Monday.
In 2019, two national surveys found that vast majorities of Americans — Democrats and Republicans, men and women — support stricter gun laws. Polls also found that gun violence was beginning to scare people: a third of Americans reported that fear of a mass shooting stops them from going to certain public places, according to one survey by the American Psychological Association. Sixty percent said they were worried about a mass shooting in their community. Despite the broad support for action such as stricter background checks, Republicans in Congress have historically resisted attempts to regulate guns, and the issue has repeatedly fallen on lawmakers’ agendas.
The National Rifle Association did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Its last tweet, at 8 p.m. Monday night, hours after the shooting, repeated the text of the second amendment.