Five people are dead and more than two dozen wounded after a gunman wearing body armor and wielding an assault weapon entered a nightclub in Colorado Springs and opened fire, mass media reported today.
The horrific attack, which authorities are investigating, reminded many of the slaughter at Orlando’s Pulse nightclub in 2016, which remains the deadliest incident in the history of violence against LGBTQ+ people in the United States and one of the worst mass shootings in American history.
According to the Denver Post: “Authorities received a report of a shooting at Club Q, 3430 N. Academy Blvd., at 11:57 PM [on November 19th, 2022] and responded within minutes, said Lt. Pamela Castro of the Colorado Springs Police Department. The gunman started shooting immediately after entering the club.”
“Emergency responders directed all units to respond to the club around midnight, declaring it an active shooter situation, according to archived recordings of police radio traffic. The first officer arrived on scene at midnight and the suspect was detained at 12:02 AM, Castro said. At least two patrons inside the club confronted the suspect and stopped him, she said.”
The suspect has been identified and is in custody.
NPI is not naming the individual in this post because we’d rather focus on the victims of the attack than the perpetrator.
A survivor told KRDO that “this was our only safe space in the Springs.”
“Where are we gonna go?” he asked.
“This is horrific, sickening, and devastating,” said Colorado Governor Jared Polis.
“My heart breaks for the family and friends of those lost, injured, and traumatized in this horrific shooting. I have spoken with Mayor Suthers and made it clear that every state resource is available to local law enforcement in Colorado Springs.”
“We are eternally grateful for the brave individuals who blocked the gunman likely saving lives in the process and for the first responders who responded swiftly to this horrific shooting. Colorado stands with our LGTBQ community and everyone impacted by this tragedy as we mourn together.”
“While no motive in this attack is yet clear, we know that the LGBTQI+ community has been subjected to horrific hate violence in recent years,” said President Joe Biden in a statement distributed by the White House on Sunday morning.
“Gun violence continues to have a devastating and particular impact on LGBTQI+ communities across our nation and threats of violence are increasing.”
“We saw it six years ago in Orlando, when our nation suffered the deadliest attack affecting the LGBTQI+ community in American history.
“We continue to see it in the epidemic of violence and murder against transgender women – especially transgender women of color.
“And tragically, we saw it last night in this devastating attack by a gunman wielding a long rifle at an LGBTQI+ nightclub in Colorado Springs.”
“Places that are supposed to be safe spaces of acceptance and celebration should never be turned into places of terror and violence. Yet it happens far too often. We must drive out the inequities that contribute to violence against LGBTQI+ people. We cannot and must not tolerate hate,” the President said.
“Today, yet another community in America has been torn apart by gun violence. More families left with an empty chair at the table and hole in their lives that cannot be filled. When will we decide we’ve had enough? We must address the public health epidemic of gun violence in all of its forms. Earlier this year, I signed the most significant gun safety law in nearly three decades, in addition to taking other historic actions. But we must do more. We need to enact an assault weapons ban to get weapons of war off America’s streets.”
“Today, Jill and I are praying for the families of the five people killed in Colorado Springs last night, and for those injured in this senseless attack.”
Biden’s statement calling for an assault weapons ban is very welcome and demonstrates a willingness and commitment to act rather than just offering useless “thoughts and prayers.” However, due to Republican obstructionism, getting an assault weapons ban through Congress would require either amending or abolishing the Senate filibuster before the end of the current Congress, which is unlikely to happen since Democrats don’t have fifty votes to change the rules.
The prospects for action at the state level — at least in states with Democratic trifectas — are better. Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson is asking the Legislature to pass an assault weapons ban and NPI’s research shows that a majority of likely 2022 voters are strongly supportive. A nonpartisan, nonaligned consortium working with SurveyUSA has verified NPI’s finding.
California, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Hawai’i, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New York have banned assault weapons at the state level. But Colorado has not. Nor have Washington and Oregon.
All three states will remain Democratic trifectas in 2023 and 2024 (Democratic governors + Democratic legislatures). Getting a ban passed must be a priority.