By Arul Louis
New York, March 23 (IANS) Ten people have been killed in a mass shooting in Boulder in Colorado state putting the focus on gun violence, the intractable scourge of the US that is deeply rooted in ideology.
At a news conference on Tuesday, Boulder Police chief Maris Herold identified the shooter in the Monday evening incident as Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa, a 21-year-old man.
The killings at a grocery shop followed another massacre last Tuesday in which eight people were killed in Atlanta.
Herold said that Alissa, who was taken to a hospital after being taken into custody, was in a stable condition.
She said that he has been charged with ten murders but did not provide a motive.
FBI Special Agent Michael Schneider said officials were conducting a “thorough investigation which includes identifying the subject’s motives”.
A Senate committee started a previously scheduled hearing on gun violence on Tuesday morning, which brought out the political differences between the Democrats and Republicans on guns.
“We face a pandemic of coronavirus. We have another epidemic in America called guns,” said Judiciary Committee Chair Dick Durbin, a Democrat Senator.
According to the Gun Violence Archive, 19,223 people were killed in the US in shootings last year, an increase of 25 per cent over the previous year.
One of those killed in Boulder was a police officer, Eri Talley, Herold said.
Calling the shootings “an absolute tragedy”, Vice President Kamala Harris said: “A police officer who is performing his duties, and with great courage and heroism” is a victim.
She added that ten people “going about their day, living their lives, not bothering anybody” have been killed.
President Joe Biden has ordered flags to be flown at half-mast to mourn the victims and he is to speak to the nation about the gun violence later on Tuesday, the White House said.
The shootings brought renewed calls for stricter laws to control gun violence.
At the Senate committee hearing on “Constitutional and Common Sense Steps to Reduce Gun Violence”, Durbin asked: “What are we doing, other than reflecting and praying?”
The House of Representatives passed two bills to tighten background checks for gun-buyers but faces Republicans opposition making it unlikely to pass the Senate.
Republican Senator Ted Cruz expressed his party’s scepticism over laws to restrict gun ownership, saying: “Every time there’s a shooting we play this ridiculous theatre where this committee gets together and proposes a bunch of laws that would do nothing to stop these murders.”
The shootings in the Atlanta region by a White man last Tuesday targeted three massage parlours and six of the victims were Asian women raising fears of racial violence against Asians.
According to officials, the killer in the Atlanta region, also 21 years old, told them he had a sex addiction and shot the massage places to root out the source of temptation for him.
(Arul Louis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and followed on Twitter at @arulouis)
By Arul Louis