Celebration of Life Service for Rikki Lyn Olds

BOULDER, COLORADO - APRIL 7: Colorado Governor Jared Polis, right, and U.S. Congressman Joe Neguse talk with Daniel Jablonski, left, a good friend of Rikki Lyn Olds, before a Celebration of Life service for her at Boulder Valley Christian Church for a Celebration on April 7, 2021 in Boulder, Colorado. Olds was one of ten victims killed by a mass shooter while she was working at King Soopers on March 22, 2021. She was born in Louisville, Colorado and graduated from Centaurus High School. She was hired by King Soopers in early 2016 and pursued her dream to become store manager in the five years she worked there. She was described as a person with a bubbly personality, an infectious laugh and a smile that lit up the room. She was 25. (Photo by Helen H. Richardson/The Denver Post)

U.S. Rep. Joe Neguse introduced a bill aimed at gun violence Thursday afternoon in Washington, D.C., but his mind was on Boulder.

The End Gun Violence Act takes into account the mass shooting March 22 at a King Soopers store in Boulder, the city in the heart of Neguse's 2nd Congressional District.

Boulder police officer Eric Talley and nine others were killed.

In June, the Democratic majority in the Colorado General Assembly responded by passing a trio of bills, including a prohibition on gun dealers selling weapons to those who have certain offenses on a background check.

The list of offenses in Colorado includes assault, sex assault, child abuse, violating a protection order, harassment, elder abuse, cruelty to animals, providing a gun to a juvenile or if a person was adjudicated to be a bias-motived crime.

House Bill 1298 took effect when Gov. Jared Polis signed it into law on June 19. The governor was Neguse's predecessor in Congress and continues to reside in Boulder.

The law would have made a difference in Boulder. Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa of Arvada, who as 21 at the time of the shooting, was convicted of third-degree assault on a high school classmate in 2017.

He faced 54 counts of crimes related to the assault on the grocery store on Table Mesa Drive. Last month he was ruled incompetent to stand trial, though prosecutors have asked for a second evaluation.

Colorado became one of 22 states and the District of Columbia to ban sales because of various misdemeanors, but Neguse said Thursday that offenders get around state laws by shopping in states without the restriction.

In July Polis signed Senate Bill 271, providing an exemption to the ban for those guilty of criminal impersonation, theft, drug offenses and other such non-violent felonies.

"Ensuring that firearms cannot be sold to violent individuals is crucial to preventing gun violence and saving lives," Neguse said in a statement. "This law is common-sense and would keep guns out of the hands of those likely to use them to perpetrate violence.”

The federal law would extend the restricting ban on gun-buying from felons to those convicted of violent misdemeanors in the last five years, including the sale or possession of ammunition. A violation could extend to making threats.

Read Neguse's bill by clicking here.

The issue is not new to Neguse. After the assault, the congressman pressed President Joe Biden to regulate concealed assault-style firearms, such as the Ruger AR-556 used by the Boulder shooter.

He then stood with Biden in the Rose Garden as the president presented a package of gun violence prevention measures, including regulations on such weapons.

“The idea that we have so many people dying every single day from gun violence in America is a blemish on our character as a nation,” Biden said that day.

The National Rifle Association, the gun rights lobby, oppose such Second Amendment controls.

“These actions could require Americans to surrender lawful property, push states to expand confiscation orders and put a gun control lobbyist to head ATF,” the NRA tweeted on April 8. “Biden is dismantling the 2nd Amendment.”

The financially and politically embattled organization concluded, "It's time to STAND and FIGHT!"

Neguse is an advocate for reinstating the federal assault weapons ban and red-flag laws to put temporary distance between people determined to be a threat  and guns. Neguse cosponsored a bipartisan bill on background checks, as well as closing a loophole in the gun laws he believes contributed to the 2015 shooting deaths of nine people at the Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, S.C.

Colorado Politics senior political reporter

Joey Bunch is the senior correspondent and deputy managing editor of Colorado Politics. His 32-year career includes the last 16 in Colorado. He was part of the Denver Post team that won the Pulitzer Prize in 2013 and he is a two-time finalist.

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