This story originally appeared on Common Dreams on Mar. 23, 2021, and is shared under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License.
After a gunman armed with an AR-15-style rifle killed 10 people in a supermarket in Boulder, Colorado on Monday, progressives intensified pressure on Democrats to use their slim majority in Congress to finally eliminate the legislative filibuster and approve substantial gun safety laws over foreseeable GOP obstruction.
“We’re absolutely heartbroken for everyone who has been impacted,” progressive advocacy group Indivisible said in the wake of the massacre, the second mass shooting in the U.S. in less than a week. “You’re going to see another round of ‘we can’t do anything yet, there was a tragedy’ hand-wringing, but we must end gun violence now. Let’s eliminate the filibuster and pass real gun violence prevention legislation.”
In the middle of Monday afternoon, a gunman entered a King Soopers grocery store in Boulder and opened fire as horrified employees and customers attempted to hide and flee. The building was soon surrounded by law enforcement, and about an hour later—after 10 people were killed, including a city police officer who responded to the scene—a shirtless man with blood running down his right leg was escorted from the building in handcuffs. Authorities did not confirm that the man was the shooter but said the suspect has been taken into custody.
As the Washington Post noted, “There have been as many as nine school shootings in the area since the Columbine massacre in 1999, which left 12 students and a teacher dead. Four other major shootings have occurred within 20 miles of the suburban Columbine High School, including a 2012 shooting at a movie theater in Aurora that left 12 dead.”
“Enough is enough,” Rep. Joe Neguse (D-Colo.) said in a statement late Monday. “Americans should feel safe in their grocery stores. They should feel safe in their schools, their movie theaters, and in their communities. While Congress dithers on enacting meaningful gun violence prevention measures, Americans—and Coloradans—are being murdered before our very eyes—day after day, year after year.”
The Boulder massacre came just days after a gunman killed eight people—most of them women of Asian descent—in a shooting spree at three separate spas in metro Atlanta.
“I said Atlanta was predictable and inevitable. So was this. I discussed this scenario with Republicans who bullshitted me about why they needed to vote no on H.R. 8,” Fred Guttenberg, whose daughter was killed in the 2018 Stoneman Douglas High School shooting, said of the Boulder shooting late Monday, referring to background check legislation that the House passed over nearly unanimous Republican opposition earlier this month.
“End the filibuster,” Guttenberg added. “Gun safety needs to move forward without them.”
Others echoed that message, arguing that the Democratic Party—which controls Congress and the presidency—cannot allow an archaic Senate rule to stand in the way of potentially lifesaving gun measures.
“End the fucking filibuster and pass some gun reform because my hands are shaking with rage typing this and checking on friends and family,” wrote Jessica Mason Pieklo, executive editor of the Rewire News Group and a Boulder resident. “I still don’t know if we know any of the dead.”
In recent days, as Common Dreams has reported, several prominent Senate Democrats as well as President Joe Biden have voiced support for substantial changes to the filibuster, which in its current form requires 60 votes for most legislation to pass the upper chamber. It is highly unlikely that Senate Democrats would be able to get 10 Republicans on board for gun control legislation.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) declared Monday night that “this Senate must and will move forward on legislation to help stop the epidemic of gun violence,” but he did not mention the filibuster issue.
“Democrats should put common sense gun control on the floor of the Senate tomorrow and force a talking filibuster,” said activist Ady Barkan, referring to a potential rule change that would require senators who wish to obstruct to speak continuously on the floor. “[West Virginia Sen. Joe] Manchin and Biden already said they support that rule change. So do it now.”
“This is the moment,” added Barkan, “and this is the issue.”