Las Vegas Sun

July 7, 2015

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Letter to the editor:

Choose safety over special interests

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On Tuesday, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved two bills concerning gun safety: expanding background checks and renewing a grant to fund improvements to school security.

This is certainly a start, but in a nation that has some of the weakest gun laws along with horrendous rates of gun violence, we must not settle on this issue. Universal background checks on all gun sales are necessary, as is addressing a multitude of other factors: more accessible mental health services, especially in our high schools and universities; banning high-capacity ammunition clips and military-grade weapons; and ensuring that every person who wishes to purchase a gun is educated on safety and accountability of gun ownership. Infringing on our Second Amendment rights? I don’t think so. My husband and I are gun owners — he is a former member of the National Rifle Association — and we choose being safe in our schools, churches, malls and theaters over the special interests in Washington.

This is about our children and our communities, not about how much money the gun manufacturers and Wal-Mart superstores can keep on making while the senseless violence continues.

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  1. Gun laws, if deficient, have to be fixed. But first, the existing gun laws that are already in force have to be enforced. They aren't. Law makers have to let the evidence dictate the changes that are needed for the existing laws, not emotions. Emotional responses to the laws, and the follow up by law makers, are what got us here in this predicament.


  2. I can think of 30,000 reasons for better gun laws.30,000 are the number of people who are killed each year from all forms of gun violence.Is there anyone who thinks we don't have a gun problem in America?

  3. Sam:

    If you arm idiots, you have to arm everybody. Unfortunately no law, or even 30,000 laws, can prevent idiots from buying and using guns. Too bad. If we did, we might not have a gun problem anymore because idiots would not have access to them.


  4. Excellent letter, Ms. Cavazos, and commenters should be more respectful of your sensible observations.

    This is no joking matter. True, weapons other than guns can kill people, but a vacuum cleaner will not 26 human beings in minutes. The NRA is so afraid that "law abiding citizens" will be stripped of their power to overthrow any government they don't like under the "protection" of the 2nd Amendment (which speaks of militias), but how will we know who's a "law-abiding citizen" without background checks for all gun sales?

    Will everyone follow the law? Of course not. Does that mean we should do away with traffic laws, food safety laws,or other laws that protect us? I believe our freedom to live without being gunned down in a theater, shopping center, or school trumps gun owners' rights to own and use weapons with impunity.

    People should also bear in mind that the NRS, who applies political pressure to block necessary gun safety laws, does not represent sportsmen and gun enthusiasts. It represents gun manufacturers, whose only concern is the bottom line--to sell more guns and ammo and make big profits. Are they the "idiots" you refer to, Carmine?

  5. Correction, the NRA, not NRS.

  6. Linda Turner, you state the case for better gun safety laws very well. RobertHC, you raise some very valid points regarding socioeconomic factors related to gun violence. However, universal background checks are a first step, not the magic solution. Will criminals, if they're determined, still be able to obtain a gun? Yes. The mass shootings in recent years have not taken place in inner cities--quite the opposite. Background checks, paired with more accessibility to mental health records for law enforcement, can be achieved with the right safeguards in place. I agree with you that there is so much to be done, but there has to be a jumping off point somewhere--we can't just ignore what is happening. Moo, and I'm sure that is your real name, your comment does not even belong in a serious discussion.

  7. CarmineD (Carmine DiFazio): I agree with your 4:40 a.m. comment that "Gun laws, if deficient, have to be fixed. But first, the existing gun laws that are already in force have to be enforced."

    To your first sentence: the House Republican'ts, agreeing with Wayne LaPierre, have indicated that NO changes are satisfactory or needed, and have implied that any possible "deficiencies" in existing gun laws would best be corrected by REMOVING those existing laws!

    To your second sentence: Yes, we DO need to remove the reasons that guns laws aren't enforced. One of those reasons: Nevada has 7 Federal judge positions: four have been occupied for some time; 2 are vacant with a nominee for one but not the second; the third had a nominee, Andrew Gordon, approved by the Senate ONLY six months after his nomination. Of the other two: Nevada's junior Senator hasn't yet gotten around to "investigating" one of them, but then he's only had six months - obviously this nomination isn't a high priority; the other nominee has just withdrawn her name from consideration after one year in limbo. Nevada's junior Senator refused to approve her nomination: not that he took any action to directly DISapprove it, he just refused to actually APPROVE it. Why? Because of a comment she made in 2008 - before the Supreme Court actually ruled, rightly or wrongly, that gun ownership was an individual right. She subsequently stated that her comment was made in support of the law as it existed at the time. Again - Nevada's junior Senator made another judicial nomination a low priority. Could he actually be placing the wishes of his political party over his responsibilities to his State and his Country??

    Of course, the recent dispute between the ATF and the Federal Court in the north, resulting in the resignations, retirements, or reassignments of all but one ATF agent with no replacements, and which no one has yet adequately explained, could have some bearing on the issue locally up here.

    Query: Just WHY do we allow one single Senator to over-ride the Constitutional right of the FULL Senate to render "Advice and Consent" concerning Presidential appointments?

  8. I understand and can sympathize with Ms. Cavazos' position, although I disgree with some of the points she's raised.

    I would encourage her to read an essay by UCLA neuroscientist Sam Harris:

    In my opinion, Dr. Harris offers one of the most insightful discussions anywhere on this issue -- because his opinions are based on actual evidence rather than ideology (either left or right).

  9. Ref my 3:33 comment. I stand corrected. That recent dispute was between the local ATF office and the northern U.S. Attorney's office, not ATF and the District court.

    And a note: No word yet from Nevada's junior Senator about this dispute. He is apparently VERY busy!

  10. "To your first sentence: the House Republican'ts, agreeing with Wayne LaPierre,"


    Over 30 years ago, LaPierre and the NRA advocated for thorough background checks. And after Sandy Hook, LaPierre and the NRA proposed armed guards in schools. Both proposals, after alot of Democratic drama over the latter, are receiving bipartisan support and will likely pass in both Houses of Congress and become law soon.


  11. I think we should review what Ben Franklin once said when discussing this matter:

    "Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." - Benjamin Franklin, Historical Review of Pennsylvania, 1759 ( as attributed here: )

  12. Thank you for the comments. Renorobert: I have the same question that you do, regarding presidential appointments, and the ability of ONE senator, through an archaic tradition, to block an appointment for no valid reason. Completely embarrassing. Boftx: I must point out that we are no longer living in the world of 1759. Emthree: I read the article by Sam Harris that you recommended. Good article, very thought-provoking, but it does not change my views on this subject. However, I appreciate your recommendation for an educated, well-written article.

  13. peaceperson,

    You are correct, this is not 1759. Using your logic, we should also ignore the following (some of which was also contributed by Franklin) since we are not living in 1776:

    "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness."

  14. teamster says "If the republican party left Bill Clinton's assault rifle ban in place, those kids and
    teachers would still be alive today."

    you keep making assertions like this, but have no data to back them up. Since the 1994 assault weapon ban resulted in NO REDUCTION in gun deaths and the 2004 expiration of that law did not result in an increase in gun deaths, on what exactly do you base your claim that the Sandy Hook massacre would have been prevented had the law still been in place?

    "Wishful thinking" is not a valid reason for legislation.

  15. Carmine (Carmine DiFazio): I totally agree with your comment yesterday at 6:09 p.m.: "Over 30 years ago, LaPierre and the NRA advocated for thorough background checks."

    That was their precise position - thirty years ago. What is of concern TODAY is what they are saying TODAY. For example TODAY, ABC news carried an article starting: "The head of the National Rifle Association is attacking President Barack Obama's call for mandatory background checks for gun owners.

    The NRA's Wayne LaPierre says those who favor mandatory background checks may be, quote, 'insane.'"

    Full report is at

    By LaPierre's own definition, he and the NRA may have been INSANE when they supported background checks. I see no evidence whatsoever that they have regained even a shred of sanity since. Granted, like many radical rightist they may well have changed their position since saying this - that was, after all, shortly after lunch today.

  16. Nightingale,

    Anytime someone justifies a new law with the statement that it will make us more "safe and secure" the very first thing that needs to be considered is that Franklin quote.

    I am not saying that all such measures are inherently wrong, but that they must be evaluated using logic and not emotions. To say that Franklin (and others of his day) are no longer relevant is the height of ignorance of what it means to be an American.

  17. "By LaPierre's own definition, he and the NRA may have been INSANE when they supported background checks. I see no evidence whatsoever that they have regained even a shred of sanity since. Granted, like many radical rightist they may well have changed their position since saying this - that was, after all, shortly after lunch today.


    In recent weeks La Pierre was interviewed by Chris Wallace. He said that he and the NRA still support the background checks. And sourced his same case from 30 years ago.

    Carmine D

  18. "It represents gun manufacturers, whose only concern is the bottom line--to sell more guns and ammo and make big profits. Are they the "idiots" you refer to, Carmine?" Linda Turner

    No. The idiots are the gun buyers who read and sign the gun form which says in large print at the top that providing false information on the form subjects the signer to 5 years in jail and a fine of $250,000. Then proceed to do so. How many are prosecuted for it [breaking that law]?

    Carmine D

  19. Can we agree on ONE THING? The Constitutional rights of American CITIZENS are NOT a special interest. Go ahead and restrict gun possession among illegal invaders, convicts, deranged...but leave our rights alone.

  20. Carmine: What LaPierre said "in recent weeks" is far less significant than what he said yesterday! His and the NRA's insanity of 30 years ago in supporting background checks was still obviously in place a few weeks ago. His use of an etch-a-sketch tactic demonstrates that the insanity continues!

  21. Robert:

    I can't imagine why La Pierre and the NRA would support background checks as long as 30 years ago, then say it again a few weeks ago to Chris Wallace, referring back to 30 years ago, then suddenly yesterday change his mind and reverse himself and the NRA official stance. It doesn't gibe with me. Unless and until I hear him and the NRA restate their position, and the press picks up to it and calls them on it, I have to believe what I read, heard and know as the facts.

    Carmine D

  22. BTW Robert I read the AP blurb. I personally think the AP has taken La Pierre's comments out of context. I believe that La Pierre is referring to registering guns not background checks. And further I believe that as La Pierre stated background checks in and of themselves will not make schools safe and to think so IS INSANE. On that I agree. I can't speak for him or the NRA just as I can't for the AP.

    Carmine D