Monday, February 11, 2013


Yesterday, Assembly Member Steven Brooks was arrested. Again. This time, it was on domestic violence charges. Police also accuse him of attempting to take an officer's weapon when fighting arrest.

Police on Sunday again have arrested embattled Nevada Assemblyman Steven Brooks, D-North Las Vegas, this time after a report that he allegedly attacked a family member.

Officers arrived at Brooks' home around 12:30 a.m. at 6007 Turtle River Avenue to find that he was “agitated and refused to obey officers’ commands,” Metro Police said.

As officers tried to take him into custody, police said, Brooks fought them. In a news release, Metro said the 40-year-old “at one point attempted to secure one of the officers' weapons.”

Police arrested the Las Vegas resident on counts of obstructing police and domestic battery.

Steven Brooks was arrested last month for allegedly making death threats on Assembly Speaker Marilyn Kirkpatrick. And since then, he's exhibited plenty of bizarre behavior. And amidst all the bizarre behavior and lurid scent of scandal, some started asking new questions on the state of mental health care and gun safety here in Nevada.

Even more questions have arisen since last week's Southern California shootings that police suspect Christopher Dorner of committing. Dorner has owned a home in the Southwest Vegas Valley since 2007. And he frequented Lock N' Load, a gun store just south of The 215 in Henderson. Lock N' Load owner Tony Melendez insists his store never sold any actual weapons to Dorner, but he has admitted that the store sold him accessories. Melendez wouldn't specify what they were, but Dorner himself declared in his manifesto that Lock N' Load sold him suppressors. These are often used in gun crimes to reduce the noise of the bullet release, and California is one of 11 states to ban civilian possession and use of them.

The manhunt for Christopher Dorner continues as the City of Los Angeles has now offered a $1,000,000 reward for information leading to his capture. LA police were actually stretched quite thin yesterday as they were simutaneously continuing the manhunt, providing extra security for the Grammy Awards, and proceeding with regular police activity.

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Ever since news broke of the Dorner manhunt, more questions are being asked on how and why this is happening. And again, issue of easy access to firearms has become the central flashpoint. The Los Angeles Times' George Skelton examined how the Dorner incident may soon unravel the gun lobby's central argument for resisting gun safety reform.

Dorner seemingly was law-abiding — until he wasn't.

And that brings up a larger point: At minimum, he is another example of a so-called law-abiding, innocent gun owner who apparently went berserk and used his arsenal to kill people.

It makes such comments as this one recently uttered by National Rifle Assn. executive Wayne LaPierre look particularly inane and off target: "Law-abiding gun owners will not accept blame for the acts of violent or deranged criminals."

News flash: Some law-abiders do become violent criminals. And their kill rate too often increases with their firepower.

Of course, this gets into the whole definition of "law-abiding." Unfortunately, you don't need to be exactly law-abiding to legally purchase a gun.

"It's one of the really pervasive myths," says Garen Wintemute, director of the UC Davis Violence Prevention Research Program. "If you ask people the question, 'Can criminals legally buy guns?' they laugh and say, 'Of course not.' But a large segment of the population has a criminal recordandcan still buy guns."

The NRA has claimed that the only way to "stop a bad guy with a gun is with a good guy with a gun". Supposedly, Christopher Dorner was one "good guy with a gun". And supposedly, Steven Brooks was one as well. So what went wrong?

The NRA has already dismissed the push for real gun safety reform as "The Connecticut Effect". Apparently to the gun lobby, the merciless slaughter of 20 children and 6 adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown has just been a political nuisance. I guess they will do the same today with the courthouse shooting in Wilmington, Delaware.

Delaware State Police Sgt. Paul Shavack confirmed three people died in the shooting Monday morning at the New Castle County Courthouse in Wilmington. He said the suspected gunmen and two women are dead. Shavack said police had not confirmed that one of the women was the shooter's estranged wife, though earlier in the day the city's mayor said that was the case.

Two police officers suffered non-life-threatening injuries.

Shavack said officers exchanged gunfire with the shooter in the courthouse's lobby before he passed metal detectors. Shavack did not say whether the shooter killed the two women or whether they were killed in the gunfire. Shavack also did not say how the shooter died.

It's becoming increasingly obvious that the nation has a serious problem with gun violence. And it's becoming increasingly obvious that gun industry lobbyists can't simply sweep this matter under the rug. Newtown won't let them. Neither will Wilmington. Neither will Southern California. And neither can Nevada.

While various states are working on gun safety reform legislation, it's become painfully obvious that we ultimately need a national solution. Nevada's Members of Congress must keep this in mind as they tackle this issue on Capitol Hill.

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