WASHINGTON — With a gun violence debate raging on Capitol Hill, Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto used the Democrats’ weekly radio address to recall the horrific mass shooting in Las Vegas just weeks before the two-year anniversary of that tragedy.
The Oct. 1, 2017, attack, classified by the FBI as the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history, broke out during the Route 91 Harvest country music festival near the Strip.
“My niece was at that festival. She came home that night. Too many others did not. Fifty-eight people were killed and hundreds more were injured,” said Cortez Masto, D-Nev.
Cortez Masto then went on to list the mass shootings since the Las Vegas attack: Parkland, Florida; Sutherland Springs, Texas; Pittsburgh; and just recently, Gilroy, California; El Paso, Texas; Dayton, Ohio and Odessa, Texas.
“Congress should show the families touched by gun violence that they can offer them something more than thoughts and prayers. They can offer them action,” Cortez Masto said in the recorded address.
While Democrats have urged Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and President Donald Trump to take up recently passed House bills dealing with gun control and background checks, the White House and GOP leaders are focusing on legislation to restrict mentally ill and threatening people from gaining access to weapons. McConnell said this week that he will not bring gun legislation to the Senate floor that the president will not sign.
Trump has vowed to veto a bill to expand background checks that passed the House in February, but he told reporters that bipartisan legislation aimed at mental health and other aspects is in the works and could be unveiled soon.
The shooter in the Las Vegas attack, Stephen Paddock, 64, of Mesquite, legally purchased assault weapons and large-capacity ammunition magazines. He also attached “bump stocks” to the weapons, devices now banned by the Trump administration that accelerate the rate of fire of semi-automatic rifles.
Assailants in the Sutherland Springs and Odessa shootings would not have been able to obtain weapons through enhanced background checks.
Cortez Masto, a gun owner, said “Nevada passed background checks this year after Nevadans voted for them in 2016.”
She said the only person in Congress who is holding up a vote on an expanded background checks bill is McConnell.
“As we approach the two-year anniversary of the Route 91 massacre, we can show those families touched by mass shootings that we’re willing to act. That we can offer them something more than thoughts and prayers. Let’s actually come together and pass this bill in honor of all of the daughters, mothers, sons, fathers, sisters, brothers and friends we have lost to senseless gun violence.”