Jul 20, 2022 - News

Colorado reels a decade after Aurora theater shooting

Balloons with the names of victims at a memorial across the street from Aurora's Century 16 movie theater in 2012. Photo: Joshua Lott/Getty Images

Wednesday marks 10 years since a heavily armed gunman killed 12 people during a screening of "The Dark Knight Rises" inside a packed Aurora movie theater.

Flashback: At least three more mass shootings have shattered the state since, despite Colorado lawmakers taking steps to end the bloodshed.

  • In 2013, the state passed universal background checks and a ban on high-capacity magazines.
  • Colorado Democrats also passed the "red-flag" bill in 2019, allowing judges to order the temporary seizure of firearms from people considered a significant risk.
  • And after 10 people were fatally shot in a Boulder grocery store in 2021, Democratic legislators were pushed to pass a trio of bills tightening gun restrictions in the state.

The big picture: Coloradans affected by gun violence say much more can be done to save lives, even as President Biden recently signed the most significant federal gun legislation in nearly three decades.

  • Raising the minimum age to purchase a firearm, banning assault weapons and investing in mental health resources could make a difference, gun control advocates say.

What's next: U.S. Rep Jason Crow (D-Aurora) told reporters Tuesday that he plans to help pass an assault weapons ban in Congress and "encourage the Senate to eliminate the filibuster, to get this done."

Yes, but: Even in our blue state — with a Democratic trifecta — efforts to pursue a ban on assault-style weapons have continued to fail amid Republican backlash and without key Democratic players' support.

  • Meanwhile, the lives of Coloradans and people nationwide are incessantly disrupted by gunfire.

What they're saying: "It feels just like yesterday … [and] it never really does get easier," Jenalise Long, an Aurora shooting survivor and Air Force veteran, said at a briefing Tuesday.

  • She recalled sitting in the fifth row of the theater with her friends in 2012, and seeing the shooter.
  • She crawled out of the theater, choking on tear gas as bullets blew past her.
  • "The day of the shooting replays in my head quite frequently. Almost daily," she said, holding back tears.

The bottom line: "These shootings happen because the guns are in the wrong hands," and the new bipartisan federal gun bill is a "huge step in the right direction," she added.


Get more local stories in your inbox with Axios Denver.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more

More Denver stories

No stories could be found


Get a free daily digest of the most important news in your backyard with Axios Denver.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more