Wednesday, April 17, 2013


It's not easy representing such an expansive district. That's something Rep. Steven Horsford (D-North Las Vegas) has had to learn the hard way. And he's especially had to learn as Congress and the nation debate gun safety reform.

In January, Horsford was quick to endorse the entirety of President Obama's gun safety agenda. Later that month, Rep. Horsford even want on "Ralston Reports" to talk with Mr. Nevada Pundit himself on gun safety.

Yet since then, he's stepped back. Sure, Horsford still personally supports gun safety reform. However since taking office, he's been listening to constituents throughout his district to seek their input on the subject.

[... A]nyone who was listening to Horsford in the wake of December’s mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. — a galvanizing event in the gun control debate —knows Horsford promised to back an assault weapons ban in Congress. The children who had been killed with a semiautomatic rifle in Newtown were the approximate age of his daughter, Ella, he noted at the time.

“I come at this not as an elected official but as a parent,” Horsford told the Sun two weeks before being sworn in as a U.S. Congressman.

But since taking on his elected role, Horsford has repeatedly and noticeably tempered that personal conviction, suggesting his mind is not made up about the more controversial points of gun control legislation, such as an assault weapons ban.

“As a parent I have a personal viewpoint on military-style weapons not being in our neighborhoods,” Horsford said in a recent interview at his congressional office. “As a policymaker, it is my job to listen to my constituents and then vote on the legislation that comes before us to represent the view that I’ve heard from my constituents.” [...]

“Part of what I’ve experienced listening to people in my district, particularly in the rural communities, is ‘respect my right to own a gun. I live in a community where I may not have police or law enforcement protection for 30, 60, 100 miles, and I need to be able to protect myself … and I have the right to do that,’” Horsford said. “And I agree, and respect that right, and have said without wavering that that is a right that we have to respect in this process.”

Horsford tells of some Republican, National Rifle Association-member constituents who he says, once they realize he respects their Second Amendment rights, are willing to talk about getting some of the higher magazine clips and semiautomatic rifles off the streets.

But, he admits, he also has several other constituents for whom “listening to them and then voting for a ban is not going to make them feel any better.”

“I’m honestly, in the core of my job as a public servant, trying to represent the needs of all my constituents,” he said. “I take it very seriously that my job … is to represent my constituents. Not some of my constituents. Not the ones I agree with only. My job is to represent the whole district.”

Indeed, Nevada's 4th Congressional District is quite diverse and expansive. NV-04 stretches from Yerington and Ely in rural Northern Nevada all the way down to Pahrump, then crosses the Spring Mountains and Sheep Range into Clark County, where just over 80% of the district's population resides. And even the Clark County portion of NV-04 is incredibly diverse, as it stretches from exurban Mesquite to minority heavy West Las Vegas and affluent Summerlin.

So Rep. Horsford represents not just a wide swath of Nevada land, but also a wide array of views on gun violence. And he's been doing his best to show respect to all his constituents. Why can't more Members of Congress do this?

And let's not forget, this isn't a one way street. In fact, February's KLAS-SUSA poll showed that 57% of Nevadans support the Assault Weapons Ban while only 33% oppose! And not only that, but the poll showed 71-23% support among Nevadans for a state gun registry and 76-19% support for expanded background checks. Oh, and since then, multiple polls have shown 86% support for expanded background checks for gun purchases!

So why am I bringing this up now? It's important to note just how out of touch Senator Dean Heller (R-46%) is with his constitutents. Instead of talking to Nevadans from throughout the state on what they'd like to see on gun safety, he's making excuses and even using "tea party" talking points as reason to oppose what 86% of Nevadans support.

And now, because Senator Heller is thumbing his nose at 86% of his constitutents, gun safety reform may finally be dying in Congress.

As a policy matter, [Heller's excuse for joining the G-O-TEA filibuster of gun safety reform] is gibberish. Indeed, it's so wrong, it's almost insulting. There's nothing unconstitutional about background checks -- indeed, background checks must be legally permissible, since they already exist without legal controversy. What's more, fearing the creation of a national gun registry from the proposal is idiotic, given that the legislation explicitly bans such a registry. The Toomey/Manchin language strengthens the prohibition against the very registry Heller is worried about.

Also note, as recently as February, Heller called background check expansion a "reasonable step forward." Since then, he saw a poll showing 87% of his constituents support the idea. Then Heller used a ridiculous rationale to oppose the popular policy.

Of course, it's not just Heller who's been irresponsible. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell wouldn't even meet with Newtown families yesterday.

And then there are a handful of red-state Democrats who aren't just prepared to oppose background-check expansion, but are also likely to side with Republicans on the filibuster. It's not enough to vote against it; they're prepared to join the GOP in denying the popular measure a vote at all.

Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), sounding very discouraged, said last night, "I honestly just didn't believe GOP Senators would turn their back on 90% of Americans. I was naive."

That's another thing to keep in mind. Not only is Senator Heller opposing any and all gun safety reform, but he doesn't even want to give these proposals a vote! He's joining the "tea party" backed filibuster on all these measures, even the background checks proposal with 86% support. Why won't he even allow a vote on the bill and related amendments?

Ask that. And remember this. And go ahead & wonder if Senator Dean Heller is actually doing anything to truly represent Nevada.

1 comment:

  1. 86% is seen everywhere yet none of the multitudes of people I have spoken with were ever asked nor polled.

    86% sounds like a fabrication, an offensive lie.

    Nowhere is there any link or annotation as to where the figure comes from - in case I have missed it please assist me, thanks