Fresh debate begins over gun control following Boulder mass shooting

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BOULDER, Colo. (KDVR) — There’s a fresh focus on gun control following Monday’s shooting in Boulder. Familiar arguments continue to take center stage. President Biden is pushing for an assault weapons ban and expanded background checks.

“Change has been coming,” said democratic state Rep. Tom Sullivan. “We have been doing positive things here in the state of Colorado.”

Sullivan, who lost his son in the Aurora theater shooting, points to Colorado’s Red Flag law as just one of the reforms saving lives on a state level. But, nationwide, it’s a different story.

“We need help from the federal government,” Sullivan said. “They haven’t done anything meaningful in decades.”

Sullivan would not go as far as endorsing a new assault weapons ban, but he said it’s worthy of debate. Gun rights activists remain concerned.

“I think it’s a dangerous line of thought,” said Jimmy Graham, referencing a proposed ban on assault weapons.

Graham leads Able Shepherd and runs an active shooter response training center.

“If there’s a threat to my family, and it involves firearms, then I’m going to need that same level of capability if I’m going to be effective,” Graham said.

FOX31 Data Desk analysis found assault weapons are less common than other types of guns in mass shootings. However, mass shootings involving assault weapons do claim more lives.

Records show the Boulder suspect bought an AR-556 pistol on March 16. But FOX31 does not yet know if he used that weapon in the shooting.

There is no widely accepted definition of what are commonly called “assault weapons.” Government regulations have focused on a combination of functional and cosmetic factors, such as semiautomatic firing and detachable magazines with 10 to 30 rounds.

Democrats in Washington D.C. have been vocal this week while pushing for reform, but political analysts are signaling an uphill battle in the senate when it comes to new gun control legislation.

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