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VICTOR JOECKS: Gun, not gun control, stopped UNLV shooter

If gun control laws worked, the UNLV shooting wouldn’t have happened.

On Wednesday, Las Vegas endured another horrible tragedy. A gunman shot and killed three people and injured another at UNLV. Law enforcement responded quickly and heroically, engaging and killing the suspect.

Within hours, Democrats were calling for new gun control measures.

“Prayer is no substitute for action,” Assemblywoman Sandra Jauregui tweeted. “We must make our communities free of gun violence and call out those that stand in our way, allowing more mass shootings.”

Rep. Dina Titus went on TV to call for Congress to pass tougher background checks, red flag laws, and restrictions on bump stocks.

Lakers superstar LeBron James was in Las Vegas on Wednesday. When asked about the shooting, he decried “the fact that we haven’t changed anything.” Instead, he claimed, “it’s actually been a lot easier be able to own a firearm. It’s stupid.”

The implication of these comments and the many like them is clear. It was possible for government to prevent this shooting, if only Democrats had been able to pass more gun control laws.

One problem. Nevada Democrats had full control of state government from 2019 to 2022. During that time, they passed new gun control laws. One of the first bills Democrats approved in 2019 was SB143, which implemented universal background checks.

“Background checks have been shown time and time again to be the single-best way to limit firearms from getting into the wrong hands without compromising the rights of law-abiding gun owners,” then-state Sen. Kelvin Atkinson said.

That same session Jauregui was the sole sponsor of AB291, which created a red flag law and banned bump stocks. “I am grateful that I am here to do something about the gun violence that plagues our generation,” she said while presenting her bill. At the bill signing, she said, “We took action today that’s going to make Nevada a safer place to live.”

There were 144 homicides in 2019. That jumped to 195 in 2020 and then 245 in 2021. In 2022, there were 227 homicides. Some homicides aren’t murder. Those were the reported numbers at the time and may have changed at the margins. But the trend is obvious.

Jauregui and other Democrats promised new gun control laws would bring safety. They didn’t deliver. Now, they’re cynically using a tragedy to double down on what didn’t work and further restrict law-abiding gun owners.

As an out-of-state basketball player, James at least has an excuse for his ignorance of Nevada’s laws. Ironically, he knows the best way to prevent crime. In 2018, Los Angeles police arrested members of an alleged burglary ring that targeted celebrities. James was on their list of future targets. He didn’t call for new anti-burglary laws. TMZ reported that he hired at least 10 armed security guards.

That’s the answer. The law making UNLV a gun-free zone didn’t stop the shooter. Good guys with guns did.

New gun laws won’t stop someone intent on committing murder. They’ll only make it more likely his intended victims are unarmed and defenseless.

Victor Joecks’ column appears in the Opinion section each Sunday, Wednesday and Friday. Contact him at vjoecks@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-4698. Follow @victorjoecks on X.

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