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Data: Denver Post and Washington Post. Chart: John Frank/Axios

If not in our classrooms, or our movie theaters, or our churches — and now our grocery stores — where can Coloradans feel safe?

The state of play: People around Colorado are grappling with that question and fighting the fear of moving about their daily lives, as the country mourns 10 lives lost in Boulder — the nation’s second mass shooting in one week.

  • This one ... just felt different. Maybe it's the fact we're emotionally weary from the pandemic. Maybe it's because grocery shopping remained one of the few essential routines in the past year. Maybe it's because this is a different venue for violence, and we weren't prepared.

By the numbers: Denver has endured one of the highest mass shooting rates per capita among metro areas nationwide since 1999, the Denver Post reported.

  • An Axios analysis counted 54 deaths and 124 injuries from eight mass shootings in Colorado since 1993.

The big picture: Trauma compounds trauma, experts warn. And Coloradans have already been dealt plenty of it.

  • "I could see at some point leaving because of all this," gun control activist and Boulder local Dawn Reinfeld told the AP. "It’s an exhausting way to live."

What they’re saying: "What we know about trauma is that it does tend to trigger experiences that we’ve had either directly or indirectly that were similar or scary," Rick Ginsberg, a psychologist and former president of the Colorado Psychological Association, told CPR.

  • "Our central nervous system doesn’t really differentiate between necessarily what is happening now and some of the things that have happened in the past," Ginsberg added,

Between the lines: A world without mass shootings is a world younger generations have never known. Young people are taught active shooter drills before they learn to write in cursive.

The bottom line: "It’s the reality of our generation," a King Soopers employee, who was in the building during Monday’s shooting, told the Denver Gazette.

This story first appeared in the Axios Denver newsletter, designed to help readers get smarter, faster on the most consequential news unfolding in their own backyard.

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Go deeper

Mar 26, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Sens. Schumer, Murphy plan to push gun reform with GOP

Sen. Chris Murphy listens to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. Photo: Samuel Corum/Getty Images

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) are planning to put forward “the boldest legislation possible” for gun reform that can still receive Republican support, a source briefed on the meeting told Axios.

Why it matters: A big concern among many Democrats is that, as history has shown, the more time that elapses after a mass shooting, the harder it is to maintain momentum for meaningful political change.

Mar 24, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Colorado shooting reminds Kelly of Giffords attack

Flowers cover the police cruiser used by Boulder Police Officer Eric Talley, one of 10 people to killed during the mass shooting in Boulder, Colorado. Photo: Jason Connolly/AFP via Getty Images

Sen. Mark Kelly told Axios on Wednesday the mass shooting in Boulder, Colorado, brought back sad memories of when his wife, Gabby Giffords, was shot in the head outside a supermarket in Arizona.

What they're saying: “Because it was a grocery store, you know, reminded me a lot of what it was like in January 2011," Kelly said. "It's really heartbreaking. This happens all too often in our country. I mean two in a week, 18 people dead."

Judge lifted Boulder assault weapons ban days before mass shooting

A pro-gun rally in Boulder, Colorado, in 2018, when the city of Boulder was considering banning the sale and possession of assault weapons. Photo: Rick T. Wilking/Getty Images

A judge in Colorado overturned Boulder's assault weapons ban 10 days before a gunman opened fire in a grocery store in the city and killed 10 people.

Why it matters: Monday's mass shooting suspect, Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa, 21, bought an AR-556 semiautomatic pistol on March 16 — four days after Boulder County District Court Judge Andrew Hartman ruled a 2003 state law invalidated the city's ban on assault-style weapons and large-capacity magazines (LCMs).