Boulder Students Push for Universal Background Checks

Student gun regulation activists join Boulder Mayor Sam Weaver in the City Council chambers (Credit: Briana May)

Members of Moms And Students Demand Action for Gun Sense in America gathered outside of Boulder’s Municipal Building Monday as part of a series of nationwide actions to urge the Senate to pass legislation to implement more robust background checks on gun purchases.

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“Today we are signing a ‘background checks now’ sign that we will be sending to the Senate floor to encourage them to take action to save lives,” said Hannah Sanders, a 19 year-old student at the University of Colorado-Boulder. She’s a volunteer with Students Demand Action, a group calling for reforms to lax gun laws.

Students sign a poster as part of their gun safety action (Credit: Briana May)

“I come from Littleton, Colorado. I grew up around Columbine and I actually got involved through the Columbine Moms Demand Action. I’ve just had a few experiences and the real scary part is how normal it is. You know, you just become numb and every time there’s a shooting in the news, you just have to really fight to not be numb. I think for a lot of us in Students Demand Action, it’s a place where we can meet with each other and see that we shouldn’t have to feel this way. I think kids are used to feeling this way, that it’s normal to go to school and have an active shooter drill. And that’s not normal and they shouldn’t have to go through that.”

Sanders says she was encouraged to see the executive action taken last week by President Joe Biden and hopes it can build momentum to push legislation on background checks through the Senate. The bill, H.R. 8 – also known as the Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2021 – passed the House last month, not long before the mass shootings in Atlanta and Boulder. It aims to prohibit the private, unlicensed sales of firearms without background checks, thereby closing what is often known as the gun show loophole.

Flowers memorialize lives lost at the Boulder King Soopers

“I have been shaken to my core from the shooting at King Soopers, a place where I was at about 45 minutes before the shooter showed up and I am feeling still quite a bit of anger that we have created a society where we allow people access to very deadly guns, immediately, upon request, unless they have a felony conviction and then they can just take it into any ol supermarket and shoot it up,” remarked Boulder stay-at-home mother, Mary Liz Callaway. She attended the event to support the students. “This is a crazy state of affairs and we don’t see it in other countries and I want it to end here.”

Callaway comes from a family full of hunters in Louisiana. While gun control can be a polarizing topic, says the issue of background checks is one upon which they can all agree.

A mother supports students rallying for background checks. (Credit: Briana May)

“Both my very conservative father and my conservative uncles think it’s an excellent idea to have background checks and they have actually supported it for years. And these are registered, active Republicans. And it’s crazy that it hasn’t become law. I mean, it’s not a political risk. Americans of all types and all localities and all political persuasions want to have background checks, universal background checks and it’s just time to make our elected representatives actually deliver it.”

Everytown for Gun Safety, of which Students and Moms Demand Action are a part, is organizing a series of cross country events throughout the month calling on the Senate to pass the measure for universal background checks.