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‘Why do we accept this?’ Political leaders express grief over mass shooting

Updated December 6, 2023 - 11:02 pm

Nevada’s leaders — who just six years ago put on brave faces as dozens were killed in the country’s worst mass shooting — expressed grief and frustration over Wednesday’s mass shooting at UNLV that resulted in at least three victims being killed.

Rep. Dina Titus, D-Nev., said she felt her heart tear out when she heard that UNLV, where she taught for 35 years at Wright Hall, was the site of gun violence Wednesday. It reminded her of the Oct. 1, 2017, shooting that occurred in her district.

“We know how to deal with it unfortunately,” she told the Las Vegas Review-Journal on Wednesday. “And we put our best foot forward in times like this, no matter how tragic.”

Rep. Susie Lee, D-Nev., told the Review-Journal she is heartbroken that Las Vegas had to experience another mass shooting and expressed frustration over the frequency of shootings and gun violence.

“I’m heartbroken for families, those that will not have their child,” Lee said in a phone interview, getting emotional. “You know, I, I have a son in college, and a daughter in grad school. I mean, why do we accept this as a country?”

Speaking during a news conference Wednesday evening in Las Vegas, Gov. Joe Lombardo, who had to deal with the Oct. 1, 2017, shooting when he was Clark County sheriff, said he is here to show solidarity between the community and law enforcement, to provide resources to victims and “to ensure that we move forward in society and as a community and to assure the community we are doing everything within our ability to address these situations appropriately and with the knowledge that we receive on a continual basis.”

Sen. Jacky Rosen said on X on Wednesday evening that her heart is shattered after another act of gun violence and said her thoughts are with the victims, their loved ones and the UNLV community. She also linked to the website that people can go to for resources and assistance, Family Assistance of Southern Nevada. Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto also said she was devastated to see Las Vegas “once again hurting from a violent shooting.”

Local leaders react

“I’m here to express the shock that we all felt as a community but at the same time the enormous relief that we feel as a result of the great work of the first responders,” Clark County Commissioner Jim Gibson said during the news conference Wednesday.

Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman spoke about the importance of teaching children how to handle stress and work through anger and hate.

“My condolences on behalf of the entire city and the community to those we’ve lost, those families that are so distraught and lost today and in the future,” Goodman said.

State legislators

Nevada’s Republican and Democratic legislators also expressed sympathy.

“We are outraged and devastated by today’s mass shooting at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas,” Nevada Assembly Speaker Steve Yeager and Senate Majority Leader Nicole Cannizzaro said in a statement on behalf of the Senate and Assembly Democratic Caucus.

“Our hearts break for the victims and their loved ones who are now forced to deal with yet another act of horrific gun violence in our community,” they said. “We extend our sincere thanks to the first responders who risked their lives to prevent even greater loss of life.”

The Assembly Republican Caucus thanked first responders and law enforcement for responding to the shooting, as well as the doctors and medical personnel working with the victims.

“Without their heroic actions and bravery things no doubt could have been worse,” they said. “As we await additional information in this unfolding situation, our thoughts and prayers go out to those affected and their families.”

President weighs in

President Joe Biden also expressed his condolences following the shooting at UNLV, as well as shootings in Austin and San Antonio, Texas.

“Jill and I join citizens across our nation in praying for the families of our fallen, and for those who were injured during these latest acts of senseless violence,” the president said in a statement. “We are also grateful for the courageous work of law enforcement — who risked their own safety to bring an end to these deadly shooting sprees.”

Biden said federal law enforcement officials are on the ground working with state and local law enforcement, and he has directed them to provide all support necessary to assist in the investigations.

Calls for action

The 46th president also condemned gun violence and said action needs to be taken in Congress to ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, as well as to pass a national red flag law, enact universal background checks and require the safe storage of guns.

More than 600 mass shootings and 40,000 deaths due to gun violence have occurred in the U.S. this year, Biden said in his statement.

“And together, we must do more to prevent more families, and more communities like Austin, San Antonio, and Las Vegas, from being ripped apart by gun violence,” said Biden, who is scheduled to visit Las Vegas on Friday.

Titus said that in the last session representatives were able to pass a bipartisan bill strengthening background checks and providing funding for mental health. She has legislation that would do away with rapid fire ammunition and weapons of war, such as machine guns.

“As a member of Congress, there’s a club that you don’t want to be in, and it’s the club where your community has been the victim of a mass shooting,” Lee said. “And you know, we’re already a member of that club, but it’s just a horrific everyday happening in our country.”

Contact Jessica Hill at jehill@reviewjournal.com. Follow @jess_hillyeah on X.

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