Boulder City County hosted manifold voices to reflect on the tragic shooting of 10 members of the Boulder community in a special meeting on March 24. Speakers discussed issues of gun violence, mental health and communities of healing. The council heard from over 40 people expressing fear, sadness, anger and even hope.
“The person who did this should never have done this and should never have had a gun,” Pearce Lembitz said. Lembitz, only 11 years old, expressed a sentiment felt by most attendees.
This massacre occurred a week after another in Atlanta. In light of these tragedies, the council and members of the community spoke explicitly about the need for gun reform.
Congressman Joe Neguse spoke on the issue. Neguse supports universal background checks, closing the Charleston loophole and reinstating the federal assault weapons ban.
“I intend to come back to this council—I hope one day soon—with the news that those measures are law,” Neguse said.
Messages of support for gun control rang out throughout the evening from Congressmen to Council members, from University of Colorado professors like David Gross to mothers like Anna Segur.
“Right now there’s very few things that are more American or more Coloradan than being a victim of gun violence,” Council Member Adam Swetlik said.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, there has been a fall in these kinds of mass shootings. But, as vaccines come out and restrictions lift many attendees feared that the shootings in Atlanta and in Boulder mark a shift back to that “normal.”
Gun violence isn’t the only issue at play nationwide.
“This is another young person who has seen no other alternative than to cause unspeakable pain to others,” said Lupita Montoya, University of Colorado Professor and regular King Soopers patron.
“So my question is what are we doing wrong as a society?,” Montoya said.
“We are not taking care of people who have serious mental illnesses,” said Judy Amabile, Colorado State representative, stressing that most individuals struggling with mental illness are far more likely to be the victims of crime than to commit them.
As the community grieves we must also consider our own mental health.
The council invited several faith leaders representing the diversity of the Boulder Community bringing together Christian, Jewish and Muslim leaders. All discussed building communities of healing in this time of grief.
Tracy Smith, executive communication member of the Islamic Center of Boulder (ICB) brought to light the particular challenges the Muslim community faces in this time: fear due to the name of the killer. In light of this ICB has had to suspend its daily prayers.
“The person who murdered 10 people at King Soopers in Boulder does not represent the Muslim community. He doesn’t represent Islam, he just happens to have a Muslim name,” Smith said. “It is important to remember not to stigmatize an entire group of people.”
The violence on March 22 has sent shock waves through the Boulder community, but the community has yet to completely lose hope.
“Hope is the realizable promise of a better future, hope has a plan, hope can be implemented and when the aims of hope are achieved hope turns to joy,” Council Member Bob Yates said.
Contact CU Independent Senior News Editor Mairead Brogan at email@example.com