BOULDER, Colo. (AP) — Nearly three years before a gunman walked into a crowded supermarket with an AR-15 style weapon and killed 10 people, the city of Boulder banned assault weapons in hopes of preventing a mass shooting.
However, just 10 days before Monday’s rampage, the measure was blocked in court after a lawsuit backed by the National Rifle Association.
The ruling came under a Colorado law that bars local officials from making their own gun laws. More than 40 states have similar preemption measures.
Supporters say these measures keep gun laws consistent, but critics say they stymie officials trying to make communities safer.
As for the shooting at the Colorado King Soopers, investigators determined the suspect, 21-year-old Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa, bought a Ruger AR-556 pistol on March 16, according to an affidavit. That’s six days before the shooting and four days after the city of Boulder’s assault weapons ban was blocked in court.
When Alissa was taken into custody shortly before 3:28 p.m. MT, the affidavit says the suspect had put down his gear inside the store, which included a tactical vest, a rifle described as a “possible AR-15,” a semiautomatic handgun, a pair of jeans and a long-sleeve shirt.
The Denver Post reports that Alissa’s Ruger would’ve been illegal under the city’s now-void assault weapon ban, though it’s not yet clear whether the firearm is the rifle or handgun that police say Alissa put down in the store. The Ruger AR-556 is not technically a rifle, but many of its features are designed to echo a rifle’s setup, the newspaper reports.
Regardless of the gun, Alissa is now facing 10 counts of murder for allegedly killing the 10 victims at the store, as well as one count of attempted first-degree murder.
The ages of the victims range from 20 to 65 and include two King Soopers workers, a Boulder police officer, and seven others.