Joe Biden ordered flags at the White House lowered to half staff on Tuesday in honor of the 10 victims of a mass shooting in Boulder, Colorado, as pressure grows on the president to address gun violence.
He will give brief remarks on the tragedy before he leaves for his trip to Ohio on Tuesday afternoon. The White House said Biden has been receiving regular updates and will continue to be briefed throughout the morning on the situation.
Meanwhile, Vice President Kamala Harris called the mass shooting ‘tragic’ and ‘absolutely baffling.’
‘It’s tragic. Absolutely tragic,’ Harris told reporters in her ceremonial office after she swore in William Burns as CIA director.
‘It’s absolutely baffling, it’s 10 people going about their day living their lives, not bothering anybody. A police officer who is performing his duties, and with great courage and heroism,’ she added.
The vice president didn’t answer a question on whether the administration would make gun control a priority in the wake of Monday’s shooting in Colorado and last week’s violence in Atlanta.
Vice President Kamala Harris called the mass shooting in Boulder, Colorado that left 10 dead ‘tragic’ and ‘absolutely baffling’
President Joe Biden did not address gun control when he spoke in Atlanta on Friday after a mass shooting there; he is expected to comment on the Boulder, Colorado, shootings at some point on Tuesday
Ten people are dead in Boulder after an unidentified gunman opened fire at a grocery store in an as-yet unexplained attack.
The gunman – who is now in custody – opened fire in the parking lot of the King Soopers grocery store shortly before 3pm on Monday. The victims include police officer Eric Talley, a 51-year-old father-of-seven who was the first to respond, and 25-year-old Rikki Olds, who was identified by her aunt.
The back-to-back shootings raise questions about where gun control falls on the White House priority list. Biden made coronavirus relief his top priority and is next expected to tackle an infrastructure package.
Biden didn’t talk about gun control when he visited Atlanta last Friday after a mass shooting there left eight dead, including six Asian women.
Biden heads to Ohio on Tuesday afternoon to mark the 11th anniversary of the Affordable Care Act and sell his COVID relief plan.
He returns to Columbus where, almost a year ago during the Democratic presidential primary, he talked about gun violence during a campaign stop. In his remarks, he said he would pursue background checks on all firearms purchases, ban large-capacity magazines for guns and end civil immunity for gun manufacturers in wrongful death lawsuits.
Officials in his administration have been meeting with gun control advocates for the past two months.
Cedric Richmond, the director of the White House Office of Public Engagement, who has been leading the meetings, told MSNBC on Tuesday morning: ‘The regular sentiment of hearts and prayers are not enough.’
‘We need action on this in the country,’ he said. ‘This President has a track record of fighting against the NRA and beating them, and we need to make sure that we have sensible gun regulations in this country to ensure safety. And so we need action, not just words and prayers.’
Healthcare workers walk out of a King Sooper’s Grocery store after a gunman opened fire
Tactical police units respond to the scene of King Soopers. The windows of the store were left broken, likely from gunfire
Gun control issues face an uphill battle in the Senate despite the Democratic control of the chamber. The Senate Judiciary Committee is hold a hearing on gun violence on Tuesday.
The House, earlier this month, passed legislation requiring universal background checks but the legislation is not expected to pass in the Senate.
Colorado previously suffered two of the most infamous mass shootings in US history – massacres that prompted nationwide soul-searching but did not result in major changes to gun ownership laws.
In 1999, two boys shot and killed 12 classmates and a teacher at Columbine High School before killing themselves.
Then in 2012, a heavily armed man stormed a movie theater in Aurora, murdering 12. The gunman is now serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole.
The city of Boulder imposed a ban on ‘assault-style weapons’ and large-capacity gun magazines in the wake of the Parkland, Florida shooting in 2018.
But a judge last week blocked that ban, local media reported, in a decision hailed by the NRA.