Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Another Shooting... But Is Congress Finally Noticing?

It happened. Again. This time, it occurred just after midnight at the Showcase Mall near MGM Grand. Yes, it happened on the Las Vegas Strip.

Authorities say the incident happened a little after midnight Wednesday morning at the UA Showcase Theater, near the MGM Grand casino on the Las Vegas Strip.

Police say a fight that happened in the foyer escalated into a shooting. Officer Bill Cassell says one person fell in the lobby, while the second victim fell into an elevator and ended up on the fifth floor.

Details about the victims and suspect information were not immediately available Wednesday morning.

Think about it. This happened right in the economic heart of Nevada. Blood was shed on The Strip... Again. Back in December, Excalibur guests witnessed a murder-suicide in the hotel lobby. And now, we have this.

And yet, there's still resistance to any kind of gun safety reform on Capitol Hill... Or is there? Guess who's finally saying something on gun safety.

GOP Sen. Dean Heller (Nev.) said Tuesday he believes a bill tightening background checks on firearm purchasers has support to pass the Senate and said such measures would be a “reasonable step forward.”

“Absolutely,” said Heller, when asked on CNN’s "Starting Point" if there was growing bipartisan consensus on universal background checks. [...]

“We had sheriffs form across the country in Washington, D.C., last week and I had discussions with my sheriffs back in Nevada and what they feel about the assault-rifles ban and all of these issues. The consensus among these sheriffs was the problem isn’t assault rifles, the problem is criminals and people with mental-health needs with assault rifles.”

“I think it’s a reasonable step forward,” he added.

Of course, there's a catch. Dean Heller still won't endorse an assault weapons ban or a limit to magazine clips. These are the two most common ingredients in mass shootings. However, he didn't downright dismiss them either. So at least Heller wants to do something.

As of now, Congress may finally address background checks. Support also seems to be growing for a bipartisan bill aimed at curbing illegal gun trafficking. That's a start.

What remains to be seen is what can ultimately pass Congress. Background checks may happen. And curbing gun trafficking may happen. But at this point, bans on the high-capacity magazine clips and military style assault weapons are still very up in the air on Capitol Hill. As we discussed earlier this week, Harry Reid still won't say whether he supports a likely (to be proposed) Assault Weapons Ban amendment to his gun safety bill. And we don't know yet whether Dean Heller will support Reid's bill at all.

However, at least one more Member of Congress from Nevada has come around on gun safety. Keep in mind that she represents The Strip. Both recent shootings happened in her district.

"Our nation has mourned the loss of too many innocent lives as a result of gun violence. In the wake of the Sandy Hook massacre, now is the time to take meaningful action.

"I applaud the President's common sense reforms to our current laws, including universal background checks and stricter prosecution of gun-related crimes, as well as the pledge to improve the nation's mental health system. I also support renewing the ban on assault weapons and limiting the size of magazines.

"The President's proposals are an important first step to a larger dialogue that must take place in Congress and throughout our nation. I am hopeful that we can work together to enact reforms necessary to reduce gun violence in our country."

Rep. Dina Titus (D-Paradise) now joins Rep. Steven Horsford in supporting all the facets of President Obama's gun safety agenda. We just don't know yet what the rest of Nevada's delegation will do, although there's at least been some recent movement from Nevada's Senators. We'll just have to see how much more gun violence our communities must endure before Congress finally acts.

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