Colorado, the Rocky Mountain Shooting Gallery

Another mass shooting occurred this past week in Colorado, a state that had more than its share of similar shootings over the past few decades. 13 people were shot at Columbine High School in 1999.

The Denver Post found that Colorado has had more mass shootings per capita than all but four other states. Metro Denver leads the nation in school shootings per capita since 1999, more than any other large American metropolitan areas.

More recent events were the Aurora theater shooting in 2012, killing 12 and injuring 70 others, followed by a shooting at a Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood clinic leaving 3 dead and 9 injured. This week’s shooting hits closer to home as it occurred at a King Sooper grocery store.

Most people do not visit a high school, movie theater, or abortion clinic on a regular basis, but virtually everyone goes to the grocery store at least weekly.

The Boulder shooter is 21-year-old Ahmad al-Issa, a Syrian born college student, who arrived in the US via an Obama-era asylum program. His Facebook page included pro-Islam and anti-Trump messages and likes for Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. The shooter’s brother described him as “very anti-social and paranoid.”

YouTube screen grab

A former wrestling teammate said he once threatened to kill people during a match, “He was kind of scary to be around.” He was already known to the FBI, “linked to another individual under investigation by the bureau” according to the New York Times.

Yet this happened under the FBI’s noses. Perhaps they were busy with other important cases. Like the 50 plus agents investigating Trump-Russia collusion, spying on the Trump campaign and administration. Or the dozen plus agents sent urgently to investigate a NASCAR garage door handle with a loop that someone thought might resemble a noose.

As The Last Refuge points out, this is yet another of many potential terrorism-related mass shootings where the shooter is known to the FBI, yet they did nothing to prevent the shooting. If only the shooter were a garage door handle, then the FBI might have investigated seriously and might have actually preempted the mass casualty event.

Al-Issa’s motive is unknown, or at least unreported. The left-wing Twitter mob immediately blamed the shooting on a “white man.”  A senior editor at Deadspin assuredly claimed, “Extremely tired of people's lives depending on whether a white man with an AR-15 is having a good day or not.” Kamala Harris’s niece also called the shooter “a white man.”

If there was a racial angle to this story it might be that the shooter was Syrian and that the 10 victims were all white. But I would not expect the media to explore this as it is opposite the predetermined narrative.

Investigative journalist Laura Loomer raised the possibility of anti-semitism. Al-Issa was pro-Islam on his Facebook page and the King Sooper he shot up was kosher friendly, advertising itself as, “Your One-Stop Shop For Kosher Groceries.” Motive is unknown at this point, but following the lead of mainstream media, we can certainly speculate.

If the shooter is white, the left blames racism and privilege. If the shooter is non-white, guns are blamed, and racism or ideology is ignored.

In this case, since the shooter is Syrian American, the gun and lax gun control laws will be blamed, ignoring that the shooting took place in Boulder, a left-wing utopia of tolerance, diversity, social justice, green energy, gun control, and kombucha on tap.

King Soopers asks customers “to not openly carry guns in stores.” I wonder why al-Issa didn’t follow store rules? What a surprise that those who break the law don’t obey the law!

Boulder passed a ban on vaguely defined “assault weapons” in 2018 after the Parkland, Florida shooting. A judge recently ruled the ban in violation of state law forbidding local governments from passing laws superseding state law.

Interestingly in the two years the ban was in place, Boulder police issued not a single citation, meaning the ban was a solution looking for a nonexistent problem.

The Denver Post was quick to blame the judge’s ruling for the shooting with this headline, “Boulder shooting suspect’s gun would’ve been illegal under city’s now-void assault-weapon ban.” Yet al-Issa purchased the gun legally six days previously, adequate time for a background check which he passed.

As he lived in Arvada, about 30 minutes south of Boulder, any sales ban in Boulder would have made no difference if the gun wasn’t purchased there, more likely bought in Arvada.

A federal assault weapons ban was in effect from 1994 to 2004. Multiple reports from the National Institute of Justice and left-wing ProPublica found that during the time of the ban there was “no statistically significant impact on mass public shootings or any other type of crime.” Yet this is what Democrats want again, another infective decree.

The knee-jerk reaction is for more laws, as President Biden, recovered from falling up the stairs, wasted no time in calling for;

"I don't need to wait another minute, let alone an hour, to take common-sense steps that will save the lives in the future, and to urge my colleagues in the House and Senate to act."

How is “more laws” working out in the killing fields of Chicago and Baltimore? Those cities have plenty of “common sense” gun restrictions yet every weeknd, Chicago is a shooting gallery with at least a dozen or two victims.

Other relevant issues are dutifully ignored by a media, eager to blame the shooting on a burly white guy wearing a MAGA hat, disappointed when the real shooter doesn’t fit their prejudice. What about mental health and marijuana, as two potential contributing factors?

The medical and mental health community doesn’t want “mental illness” blamed for mass shootings. Yet mental illness isn’t a single entity but a broad category. While people with brain diseases like schizophrenia “may be no more prone to violence than other people,” other conditions like paranoia may be. The Boulder shooter’s family noted his paranoia.

Mental health is given short shrift in the medical community, especially in Colorado. The University of Colorado closed its inpatient psych unit. Colorado has 12 inpatient psych beds for every 100,000 people compared to the national average of 30. How many shootings could have been prevented if those needing mental health care actually received it?

Marijuana is another issue, legal in Colorado since 2013. As reported in the journal Psychological Medicine, “Continued cannabis use is associated with a 7-fold greater odds for subsequent commission of violent crimes.”

Did marijuana play a role in the Boulder shooting or others? Crime and driving fatalities are up significantly in Colorado since legalization. Over 15 percent of adult reported using marijuana in a past 30-day period.

It’s the “white guy” that the media and the left are worried about while mental health and cannabis are conveniently ignored.

While a thoughtful discussion of root causes and potential solutions would be welcome after another Colorado mass shooting, instead the event will be politicized, like everything else, from gender to COVID, to further a political agenda, specifically neutering or eliminating the Second Amendment.

Proposed solutions, already tried and deemed unsuccessful, will be trotted out again with the same ineffectual results. And the Rocky Mountain shooting gallery will remain open for business.

Brian C Joondeph, MD, is a physician and writer. He is on sabbatical from social media.