Las Vegas shooting sparks dialogue over gun control

A police officer takes cover behind a truck at the scene of a shooting near the Mandalay Bay resort and casino on the Las Vegas Strip, Sunday, Oct. 1, 2017, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

Connecticut has some of the strictest gun laws in the country.

Those changes were prompted following the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

After Sunday night's shooting in Las Vegas, it didn't take long to re-ignite the gun control debate on a national level.

Those closest to the issue, folks who lost loved ones in Sandy Hook and worked for change following the shooting, say talking about change only goes so far.

"The first thought is not again. We knew it was coming, we just didn't know when we just didn't know how drastic,” said Ron Pinciaro, executive director of Connecticut Against Gun Violence.

For Pinciaro, the images coming out of Las Vegas, brought back that painful December day from 2012, a day when 20 students and six educators were killed inside Sandy Hook Elementary School.

"They're becoming more powerful and more lethal all the time and Congress is not doing anything,” Pinciaro said.

As more details from Las Vegas emerge, the reaction is strong in Connecticut.

On Monday morning, the Vicki Soto Foundation, which was founded to remember a teacher who died in Newtown, took to Twitter, saying “We don't know what to say, our hearts are heavy, and we are deeply saddened by what happened in Vegas. Our prayers go out to the families to heal from this horrific event. Unfortunately, as we prepare for Vicki’s 5k we know they never will fully heal. We don't have to live like this."

In a statement, the Newtown Action Alliance said “Our hearts are broken for the families of the 58 victims who have been senselessly massacred and over 500 victims who have been injured. There is a long road ahead for the Las Vegas community and the families who have been directly impacted by this horrendous act of domestic terrorism. We send our love and support. While we wait for more information to be released and the investigation to be completed, we cannot ignore that fact that rapid-fire weapons of war were used to brutally murder innocent Americans who were simply attending a live concert in Las Vegas. Over and over again, military-style assault weapons are the weapons of choice for mass shooters due to the sheer lethality of their design. Assault weapons are designed to kill as many people as possible as quickly as possible. After the Sandy Hook tragedy and other mass shooting incidents, thoughts and prayers are offered by Congressional members who stand with the NRA. But these members of Congress have failed to do their job to keep all Americans safe. Taking action to reduce gun violence should not be a political issue. It is a matter of public safety and public health. We implore all members of Congress to dig deep and find the courage to immediately reject the NRA policy proposals that loosen our gun laws and pass a package of sensible federal gun laws similar to what was passed in Connecticut after the Sandy Hook tragedy in a bipartisan manner. Just one month ago, the NRA-supported Sportsmen's Heritage and Recreational Enhancement Act (SHARE Act) was introduced in the House of Representatives. This act would deregulate silencers, making them readily available without background checks at gun shows and on the Internet. We implore all members of House of Representatives to reject the SHARE act and instead pass laws that require background checks for sale of all guns; ban assault weapons and high capacity magazines; repeal the legal shield for the gun industry; and adequately fund federal gun violence research. Congress must also reject any effort by the NRA to allow gun owners from states with poor permitting laws to carry their concealed weapons in other states. Over 500,000 Americans have been killed or injured by guns since the Sandy Hook shooting tragedy. The Las Vegas massacre was the 272nd American mass-shooting incident in 2017. Too many Americans are getting killed in public spaces. Until our federal gun laws are strengthened, we are all vulnerable to becoming victims of gun violence in our country. We encourage all Americans to demand action from their congressional representatives by calling them at 202-224-3121.

Gov. Dannel Malloy said he reached out to the mayor in Las Vegas and the governor of Nevada, offering prayers of support, but as for any real change on the federal level, he said he’s not optimistic.

Last month a bill was introduced in Congress that would de-regulate gun silencers, making them easier to buy.

"You know I think Americans are pretty stacked in their relationship with guns, unlike any country in the world and I’m not sure how much that will change. I am happy that in our own state we have very different laws that govern gun use and gun behavior, but it doesn't appear to be an issue that's going to be addressed on a national basis.”

It’s something Pinciaro says they'll keep fighting for it.

"Whether this is the time or not, obviously, we can't say for sure, but we're certainly going to act as we can and we're going to push to get this done and if it’s not this one, we'll do the same as the next one until it finally hits home that this is not the country we want to see,” Pinciaro said.

The Connecticut Against Gun Violence organization said it’s planning a vigil will be held on Wednesday night outside its headquarters in Fairfield.

In a statement, the Connecticut Citizens Defense League said "CCDL expresses our sympathy for the victims and families of this horrible mass murder in Las Vegas. We are eager for more answers with regards to what might have motivated this mass murderer. We need to let investigators do their Job. There is no justification for anyone to commit mass murder. Unfortunately, the usual gun control entities are calling for knee-jerk reforms before all the facts are in. This is entirely the wrong approach in our view. Mass murderers simply will break whatever laws we have to commit atrocities. This fact is evidenced by the numerous cargo vehicle murders that occur in Spain, Germany, Sweden, France and multiple incidents in England. It seems to me that certain lawmakers like Chris Murphy very simply want to disarm citizens of the United States. If that is what he is seeking, then he should articulate his positions and simply say so. Americans will not stand for that actions such as this."

Copyright 2017 WFSB (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.


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