Las Vegas Sun

April 24, 2019

Currently: 72° — Complete forecast

GUEST COLUMN:

Among top priorities are expanded background checks, gun violence report

Image

John Locher / AP

Steven Horsford, Democratic candidate for Nevada’s 4th Congressional District, speaks at a Democratic election night party Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018, in Las Vegas.

When I ran for Congress, I promised to fight for policies that make our children, families and communities safer. That’s why I’ve put preventing gun violence at the top of my legislative agenda.

Every Nevadan was affected by the Oct. 1 shooting, which shook Las Vegas and burdened our community with the distinction of being home to the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history.

But mass shootings aren’t the only type of gun violence that plagues Southern Nevada. Every day, we lose friends and loved ones to gun deaths suffered during robberies, domestic violence incidents and gang disputes. With Nevada suffering an average of 470 gun deaths per year from 2014 to 2017, this violence has grown so constant that many people hardly bat an eye when reading about recent shootings in the newspaper or seeing one reported on the evening news.

We cannot allow the loss of brothers and sisters to gun violence to continue to be routine. And our policymakers have an obligation to do everything we can to prevent these tragedies. As one of Southern Nevada’s representatives in Congress, that’s exactly what I’m doing.

This week, Congress held its first hearing on House Resolution 8, a bipartisan universal background check bill that I’ve co-sponsored to prevent guns from falling into the hands of individuals with severe mental illnesses or who have committed violent acts.

HR8 eliminates the “gun show loophole” that allows these individuals to evade the current vetting system. The resolution also requires private gun sellers to comply with federal background check law.

This legislation is an important part of stopping preventable gun deaths. But it’s not the only solution. I’m also co-sponsoring legislation to eliminate loopholes that allow stalkers and domestic abusers to obtain firearms. This is essential in a country where 50 women are shot to death by intimate partners every month, and 54 percent of mass shooters also kill a partner or family member.

I’ve also co-sponsored legislation that will require the U.S. surgeon general to submit an annual report on gun violence’s effect on public health. Americans deserve a full accounting of the toll gun violence takes on our communities. I’m committed to getting a full picture of this epidemic’s effects on Southern Nevada.

Last Saturday, I hosted a constituent roundtable to hear directly from individuals who are sick and tired of watching gun violence claim the lives of people in our community.

I heard from parents who have lost children to gun violence, activists committed to making their neighborhoods safe for kids walking home from school, and a brave high schooler who helped lead her school’s walkout on the 19th anniversary of the Columbine High School shooting.

As tired as these Nevadans were of watching gun violence claim the lives of their loved ones, they were even more tired of watching politicians refuse to take action to solve the problem.

I too have watched politicians pass the buck as guns have claimed the lives of our mothers, sons, friends and everyone in between. I lost my own father to gun violence when I was 19. So I understand the pain and trauma that accompany senseless gun deaths. And I’ve felt the frustration of watching lawmakers refuse to take meaningful action to reduce gun violence.

I’m honored to be one of the lawmakers breaking that trend. And I will continue to use my position in Congress to work toward making our communities safe from gun violence.

Rep. Steven Horsford was elected to his second term in Congress this past November. He had previously served from 2013 to 2015.