Does Colorado Suffer More Mass Shootings Than Other States?

As the investigation into the attack at Boulder continues, several leading figures described their sorrow at the state of Colorado suffering yet another mass shooting.

Ten people, including a police officer, were killed when a gunman opened fire inside a King Soopers at around 2:30 p.m. on Monday.

Paying tribute to the victims, Senator John Hickenlooper said the state is mourning after more Coloradans were "senselessly killed" by gun violence following incidents such as the Columbine High School massacre in 1999 and the shooting inside a movie theater in Aurora in 2012.

"We all share Boulder's pain – pain that hits home. Columbine, Arapahoe, Platte Canyon, STEM School Highlands Ranch, Planned Parenthood, Aurora – and now Boulder," he said.

Rep. Joe Neguse added: "Twenty-one years ago, as a young student in Douglas County, I joined many Coloradans in weeping for the victims of the terrible massacre at Columbine High ten minutes from my high school.

"Two years ago, I felt the fear that so many Coloradans experienced learning of the shooting at the STEM School in Highlands Ranch, where my niece — a kindergartner — was locked down, as we all wept at the tragic loss of life. And tonight, I weep for the families of my constituents, who have tragically lost their lives in yet another mass shooting."

In the wake of the Boulder shooting, The Denver Post referred to its 2019 data analysis showing that Colorado, the 21st most populous state, had the fifth-highest rate of mass shootings by population and the 10th-highest rate of school shootings.

The data also found the Census-designated Denver metropolitan statistical area has had more school shootings since 1999, per million people, than any of the country's 24 other largest metro areas, and the third-most mass shootings by population, over the same period, behind Seattle and Orlando.

The data was compiled by The Denver Post following the STEM School Highlands Ranch shooting that left one student dead and eight others injured in May 2019.

"This does not define us. It won't today, and it won't tomorrow," District Attorney George Brauchler said at a press conference following the STEM shooting. "These are aberrant acts.

"Problem is, when you get three, four or five of them within a 20-mile radius, you begin to think they're less aberrant, but I'm here to tell you this is not who we are."

It is unclear why Colorado and Denver would have such dispassionately high incidents of mass shootings, or what factors drive them.

Adam Lankford, a professor of criminology who studies mass shootings at the University of Alabama, told The Denver Post at the time that the infamy around the Columbine shooting still influences copycat shooters and those who come to Colorado for "inspiration."

However, Peter Langman, a Philadelphia psychologist who tracks school shootings, said several of Colorado's post-1999 school shootings do not appear to have any connection to Columbine.

"I think everyone's acutely aware of the Denver area because of Columbine," he said. "Anything that happens there is going to be noticed in a way that another shooting in Ohio or Pennsylvania isn't."

As noted by The Denver Post in the article following the Boulder shooting, Congressman Tom Sullivan told the Colorado House of Representatives that there had been 452 Fridays since his son Alex was killed in the Aurora movie theater shooting.

"There are going to be people who are counting down their Mondays, because they've been through this as well," said Sullivan.

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Crime scene investigators stand outside the entrance of the King Soopers grocery store in Boulder, Colorado after a mass shooting on March 22, 2021. - A gunman killed at least 10 people including a police officer at a grocery store in Colorado on Monday, March 22 JASON CONNOLLY/AFP/Getty Images