Nevada officials held a press conference on Monday morning to update the public on Sunday night’s tragic mass shooting, which left at least 58 people dead and over 500 others injured.
“There is a lot to learn from this,” said Republican Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval. “It was a cowardly, despicable act I am very angry about. There’s not much we can do, but we can learn.”
As many have pointed out, the assertion that there’s nothing left to do to stem the rising tide of gun violence is simply untrue.
Nevada, for instance, could start by addressing its current laws on firearms. The state holds a C- rating from the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, up from an F last year. The measure that allowed for Nevada’s grade bump was a ballot initiative requiring background checks on private gun sales. This law, however, currently isn’t being enforced, as Nevada’s attorney general claims the FBI won’t conduct its portion of the background check. Ensuring that those checks are being carried out properly is a small but effective step which both parties could arguably back.
At the moment, the House is also set to vote on legislation that would make gun silencers more accessible. Supporters of the legislation, called the Sportman’s Heritage and Recreational Enhancement Act (or SHARE Act), say silencers can prevent hunters from hearing damage when firing off a gun. In addition to eliminating the $200 dollar transfer tax on gun silencers, the legislation would also allow gun owners to transfer registered firearms across state lines and carry firearms in national parks.
Democrats, however, are pushing against this, saying silencers would make shootings like the one in Las Vegas even more deadly.
“The SHARE Act was supposed to be about making it easier to hunt wildlife. The gun provisions inserted in the bill at the direction of the NRA to deregulate silencers and armor-piercing ammunition make it easier to hunt people,” Arizona Rep. Raul Grijalva (D) said in a statement on Monday, according to Politico. “There’s a lot we need to do in the wake of this mass shooting. We don’t need to make it easier to get hold of items that could make mass casualty events even more deadly.”
“To my colleagues: your cowardice to act cannot be whitewashed by thoughts and prayers,” Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT), one of the SHARE Act’s biggest opponents, tweeted on Monday. “None of this ends unless we do something to stop it.”
To my colleagues: your cowardice to act cannot be whitewashed by thoughts and prayers.
None of this ends unless we do something to stop it.
— Chris Murphy (@ChrisMurphyCT) October 2, 2017
House Minority leader Nancy Pelosi has also penned a letter to Speaker of the House Paul Ryan this week, urging him to take up background-check legislation and to create a Select Committee on Gun Violence.
“Today is a day for prayer, mourning, and love, but it must also be a day for action,” Pelosi wrote in her letter. “As Members of Congress, our words of comfort to the families of the victims of the Las Vegas massacre will ring hollow unless we take long overdue action to ensure that no other family is forced to endure such an unimaginable tragedy.”
— Nancy Pelosi (@NancyPelosi) October 2, 2017
Later on Monday morning, former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) and her husband, retired astronaut and Navy Captain Mark Kelly, held a news conference on the steps of the Capitol building. The two criticized efforts to tamp down real policy suggestions.
Kelly told reporters that events like the Las Vegas shooting should not be the new norm and that there are ways to “cure” what he and many others see as a real epidemic.
“Your thoughts and prayers aren’t going to stop the next shooting,” Kelly said. “Only action and leadership will do that.”
Mark Kelly: “We don’t have to accept this as normal. It’s not normal. It’s not inevitable. It’s an epidemic that needs to be cured.” pic.twitter.com/d9uSP1ovcz
— CBS News (@CBSNews) October 2, 2017
Giffords, who survived an assassination attempt in 2011 that left her with a severe brain injury, pointed to the Capitol building and said simply, “The nation is counting on you.”
“I know this feeling of heartbreak and horror too well,” Giffords added. “The massacre in Las Vegas is a grave tragedy for our nation. This must stop — we must stop this.”
Both Kelly and Giffords have advocated for stricter gun control legislation in the years since the shooting in Tuscon that almost took Giffords’ life.