Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2019 | 2 a.m.
Las Vegas and Parkland, Fla., are connected by tragedy: both have seen a mass shooting.
U.S. Rep. Dina Titus, D-Nev., and U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Fla., among House Democrats working on gun safety legislation they say is needed to combat the swell of gun violence in the United States, including the mass shootings in their districts.
A shooting on the Las Vegas Strip on Oct. 1, 2017, left 58 people dead and more than 800 injured, while 17 were killed and 17 wounded on Feb. 14, 2018, in a shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland.
“I never would have made the connection between Parkland and Las Vegas, but there is now a very profound connection,” Deutch said. “(These) events have affected our communities forever.”
At a roundtable discussion Monday in Las Vegas, Titus and Deutch talked about legislation including the Keep Americans Safe Act, which would, with some exceptions, ban magazines with more than a 10-round capacity. The House Judiciary Committee passed the act earlier this month.
Democrats have also pushed legislation including universal background checks and red-flag laws that would allow police to temporarily confiscate guns from people deemed high risks. Bills in the House and the Senate banning assault weapons have failed to move forward.
The Keep Americans Safe Act has not passed the full House, and even if it does, it will likely be blocked by Republicans in the Senate.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has repeatedly frozen legislation passed by the House and has said he will not bring a gun control bill to the floor until he is sure President Donald Trump will sign it.
“It frustrates me when people say Congress isn’t acting,” Titus said. “No, that’s not right. Democrats in the House are acting. It’s McConnell and the Republicans in the Senate that aren’t acting.”
Deutch sees McConnell’s reluctance to move gun safety legislation as a weakness for Republicans. He said continued inaction on gun safety laws could hurt them in the long run because, according to Gallup polling, most people favor of stricter gun laws.
Gallup shows most poll respondents support universal background checks.
Polls on banning assault-style weapons showed varying results. In 2018, 40% of poll respondents were in favor of an “assault rifle” ban, while 56% said they favored banning the “sale of semi-automatic weapons such as the AR-15.”
Annette Magnus, executive director of Battle Born Progress, attended the event and pointed out that the government has already started discussing legislation around vaping products after deaths began to be connected to the products.
The number of deaths from gun violence, she said, dwarfs those from vaping. “It’s such a stark contrast to me,” she said.
Titus said people should share their opinions with the right lawmakers.
“Don’t waste your time sending me letters,” she said. “You need to send the letters to the people who are not doing things.”