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Colorado Congressman Joe Neguse Speaks About The Shooting In His District


The flags at the White House are at half-staff. At a Senate Judiciary hearing on gun violence this morning, committee chair Senator Dick Durbin called for two moments of silence - one for the mass shooting in Atlanta that left eight people dead a week ago today and one for the mass shooting at a Boulder, Colo., grocery store yesterday. Ten people there are dead. Congressman Joe Neguse is a Democrat who represents Boulder in Congress.

Thank you for talking with us, and my condolences.

JOE NEGUSE: Thank you, Ari. Good afternoon.

SHAPIRO: You spoke with law enforcement officials this morning. Have you learned anything more that you can share with us about the shooter's motivation?

NEGUSE: I have not, Ari. As you know, the arrest affidavit was released earlier today by law enforcement. I think the district attorney and the police chief both articulated that we're in very early stages of their investigation, and so I suspect we'll learn more in the coming days. But for now, we're focusing on the victims and grieving the loss - the tragic, devastating loss that we've experienced here in Boulder.

SHAPIRO: I understand. You said this morning that these mass violence events cannot become our new normal. There have now been two mass shootings in the last week and countless more in recent years. Isn't this, by any definition, normal, if not new?

NEGUSE: It's certainly trending in that direction, Ari. And as I said this morning, it doesn't have to be this way. There are reasonable, common-sense gun violence reform pieces of legislation that have been debated in Congress for decades, and it's time for the Congress to finally step up and do the right thing. I have a 2-year-old daughter, and I don't want her to grow up in a country where she has to be fearful to go to the grocery store or the movie theater or her school or anywhere in her community. So I think it's important now for all of us to come together and to do what we can to enact meaningful reform, and I'm very heartened by what the president said earlier today during his press conference in that regard.

SHAPIRO: These are familiar refrains, and it seemed like there was momentum after the Sandy Hook shooting, after the Parkland shooting. And yet this remains a uniquely American problem that never gets solved. What makes you think this time is different?

NEGUSE: I would tell you, Ari, that in the conversations I've had in the last 24 hours with so many members of my community here in Boulder, there is a palpable sense of frustration and anger and grief and a desire to see us once and for all solve the gun violence crisis that's plagued our communities for decades after decades. And so I - look; at the end of the day, I understand that - the obstacles that might be in the way, but we have to try. We've lost too many lives already. I think we have to take the steps that are necessary to ensure that our communities are safe.

SHAPIRO: That may be the sentiment in Boulder. But in Washington, at the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing that I mentioned today, things were already breaking down along predictable partisan lines. If on a day like today lawmakers cannot put politics aside, how does this issue move forward?

NEGUSE: I would say that the proposals that the president talked about earlier today are broadly supported by the American people. And, yes, while there may be some in Washington who, for one reason or another, refuse to concede to reality, we shouldn't assume that our political institutions are impervious to public opinion and to the opinions and the values of the vast majority of the American people who want to live in communities that are safe and free from gun violence.

SHAPIRO: We have reached you today in Boulder, but you are going to head back to Washington as a member of Congress. How will what happened in your district yesterday inform your legislative work going forward?

NEGUSE: Well, again, as I said, I think the primary focus for us right now and for our office is to assist the victims and the community that is still very much grieving. It is a shocking, shocking, senseless act of violence that happened in our community less than 24 hours ago. It's going to take a lot of time to heal, so we are helping our community do so as we come together. And I know we're a strong community that will be able to ultimately heal from this terrible tragedy. And of course, as I said, I'll continue to push for common-sense gun violence reform at the federal level.

SHAPIRO: That is Democratic Congressman Joe Neguse, who represents the district that includes Boulder, Colo.

Thank you for making time for us today.

NEGUSE: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.