We monitored but didn’t comment on the incident last week in Colorado Springs where a man murdered three people as he walked down the street before finally being confronted and killed by police.
We didn’t feel it was responsible to comment at the time because police in Colorado Springs were very cautious in disclosing information during their investigation, and there simply wasn’t much known about the murderer*, his motives, or the trigger for the incident.
Sadly, we still don’t have a reason for the murder spree, which seems to have been almost completely random. The murderer appears to have been progressing into mental illness, but had purchased the firearms used in the incident legally six years ago.
The most disturbing thing about this incident for many was the fact that a 911 call were placed before the shooting, as a neighbor watched the eventual murderer walking with an AR-15 in hand. The dispatcher—who was current on Colorado’s gun laws—noted that it is considered legal to open carry a rifle in the manner this man was.
The man also had gas cans, and it was only because he was armed and had gas cans that even a low-priority call was placed.
Residents who feel that the murder spree might have been limited or stopped entirely beforehand are now calling for Colorado Springs to pass an ordinance banning open carry like the one in Denver, but so, far the Mayor is refusing to let an emotional reaction to a single incident overrule good judgement:
Five days after a rifle-toting assailant stormed a Colorado Springs neighborhood, Mayor John Suthers said he sees no reason to restrict residents’ ability to openly carry firearms.
“What your open carry laws are don’t dictate what your violent crime rate is,” Suthers said.
His comments came as debate swirled about a state law allowing people to openly carry guns in public, and numerous publications scrutinized the Colorado Springs Police Department’s initial handling of a 911 call about the gunman on Halloween morning.
On Thursday, the gun control advocacy group Colorado Ceasefire seized on the 911 recordings, calling on lawmakers to pass legislation prohibiting the open carry of firearms.
Too often, the law leaves police “paralyzed” with uncertainty about how to respond to calls for help, said Eileen McCarron, the group’s president.
“We just allow anybody to carry anything on our streets,” McCarron said.
Suthers called the shootings a “community tragedy – a very, very sad situation.”
But Suthers – the state’s former attorney general – said the Police Department and the 911 operator appeared to act appropriately, and assigned the proper priority to each call.
He also said banning residents’ ability to openly carry firearms would do little for public safety.
“When I look around the country, what the open-carry laws are, are not generally a reflection of what the community’s violent crime rates are,” Suthers said.
“I personally do not have an appetite for” tightening open carry laws, he added.
I applaud Mayor Suther’s resistance to knee-jerk politics, even as I’m sympathetic to concerns of citizens outraged that the totality of the situation.
A guy armed with three firearms walking down the road with gas cans in his hands is a pretty good indicator that something bad is likely about to go down, and while it may not warrant an all-hands priority response, it would seem to warrant a more aggressive response.
In the end, this may warrant new threat-level assessment and categorization by law enforcement and the dispatchers, but Colorado Ceasefire’s opportunistic cries to ban all open carry because of an isolated incident isn’t logical.