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We Need To Acknowledge The Tragedy, Feel The Grief, Boulder Mayor Says

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

We're going to turn now to the mayor of Boulder, Sam Weaver. Mr. Mayor, thank you for taking the time, and our condolences for what has happened in your community.

SAM WEAVER: Good morning, Rachel, and thank you for the kind words.

MARTIN: Have you had a chance to talk with the families of the victims?

WEAVER: No, I have not. And no council members probably have. Right now, we have victims advocates assigned to each family of the victims. So there's victims advocates from the police organizations and there's one from the DA, I believe, also helping. So, no, I have not attempted to reach out to any of the victims' families so far.

MARTIN: I know you just heard the voices that were there in Kirk's piece. I mean, when you hear those sentiments, what are you saying to the people of your town right now?

WEAVER: Well, I mean, I'm saying that we need to acknowledge that this is a tragedy. We need to feel the grief and begin to process the different stages of acceptance that have to occur. You know, we have to create the space for that. At the same time, there are many clamoring to take some action that will relieve the grief that they feel. And so it's a balance of acknowledging the loss and focusing on the victims and our own losses, as well as thinking about how we're going to try and prevent this from ever happening in another community again.

MARTIN: Well, let's talk about what that might look like. In 2018, your city passed an ordinance banning the sale of specific styles of shotguns, pistols and rifles. It was overturned by a judge just 10 days before this shooting. What lesson did you take away from that defeat?

WEAVER: Well, it's not a complete defeat yet, so one lesson is don't stop. We are speaking right now about pursuing an appeal of that ruling of the district court judge all the way to the Colorado Supreme Court. So that's one tact. Another tact is that the reason that the judge overturned our law is that there's a state law which says that after Denver did such a thing, no other city in Colorado could do so. And we don't agree with that. We are what's called a home rule city, which means we have statutory authority to create our own laws. And so we'd like to remove that state law, which is called the preemption. We would like to stop the state from telling us what to do. And then we'd also like to see the state take the same steps we did in Boulder, which is to say ban these weapons, which are just designed for killing humans and having many rounds to be able to do so. So it's two prongs - continue our work to protect our own ordinance and to try and get the state law changed and ultimately federal.

MARTIN: I mean, we have to just acknowledge Colorado, your state, has been the site of several of these mass shootings - Columbine, 1999, a church shooting in Colorado Springs in 2007, movie theater in Aurora in 2012. You're saying you want some state action. What about at the federal level?

WEAVER: You know, at the federal level, these weapons were banned for 10 years, and it didn't stop people's ability to defend themselves or to hunt or to use, you know, firearms for any legitimate purpose. So, you know, we have an existence proof in this country that we can have such laws in place and also allow people to exercise their Second Amendment rights. So, yeah, we want to see the federal government reinstate that. We want to see the loopholes in the background check laws closed. There's a laundry list of things that we'd like to see the federal government do.

MARTIN: Lastly, I understand that there is a star that is illuminated on a mountainside that you can see from the city of Boulder. For those who haven't been there, don't know of it, can you describe what it looks like right now? It's been illuminated in honor of the victims' lives.

WEAVER: That's correct. That is what we call the Boulder Star. It's on the hillside above town, and it is normally associated with peace and comfort. And so our chamber had that turned on as a symbol of the resilience of our community.

MARTIN: Sam Weaver is the mayor of Boulder, Colo. Again, we appreciate you taking the time, and our thoughts are with you all.

WEAVER: I appreciate that. Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.