The Nevada Independent

Your state. Your news. Your voice.

The Nevada Independent

D.C. Download: 'It just rips your heart out': UNLV shooting hits home for Nevada delegation

Reps. Dina Titus and Susie Lee say any action on gun violence will require Democratic victories in 2024.
Gabby Birenbaum
Gabby Birenbaum
CongressGovernment
SHARE

Greetings from Las Vegas, where several members of the Nevada congressional delegation have flown back early to grieve with the UNLV community after the Dec. 6 shooting. I spoke with Reps. Dina Titus (D-NV) and Susie Lee (D-NV) after the shooting and how they plan to advocate for gun control measures in Congress.

‘No one wants to go through that’

Outside her political career, Titus taught political science at UNLV for over 30 years. When she first heard reports of a shooting on campus, she immediately reached out to faculty members, friends from the university community and UNLV President Keith Whitfield.

“It just rips your heart out when you see something that's happened like this anywhere, but especially when it's so close to home,” said Titus, who previously worked in the political science building next door to Beam Hall, where the shooting began.

Lee had a similar experience — two of her interns were on the campus at the time of the shooting and a friend’s daughter ended up sheltering under mats in a cheerleading room. She said she spent the day consoling her staff, many of whom are UNLV alumni. 

In a statement, Rep. Steven Horsford (D-NV) said he was “shaken up” by the incident and had loved ones and friends on campus at the time.

Lee and Horsford flew back to Las Vegas early this week. The members praised Las Vegas Metro Police’s response time and UNLV’s alert system as effective while offering up their offices as resources. 

“UNLV is a bright spot in our community,” Lee said in an interview. “It is a place where people go to begin their lives. To have kids sheltering in place … experiencing that type of trauma — no one wants to go through that.” 

Titus and Lee said they plan to reengage their colleagues on existing gun violence prevention bills when they return to the Capitol — but given Republican control of the House, they say the best chance for action on gun control will come at the 2024 ballot box. 

Titus said Republicans falsely frame any attempts to expand firearm background checks as taking gun owners’ firearms away from them. 

“Republicans just keep ignoring us,” Titus said. “They’ll call for thoughts and prayers. People are tired of thoughts and prayers. That's fine, but they want some action.”

Las Vegas’ three House members and two senators are all Democrats. Republicans including Senate challengers Sam Brown and Tony Grady offered support and prayers to students in posts on X, but did not mention any gun policy proposals.

Titus said she plans to hold a moment of silence for the victims and make comments related to the shooting on the House floor next week. With the 1 October mass shooting still fresh and having watched proposals to criminalize bump stocks, toughen background checks and implement red flag laws fail to pass through Congress amid Republican opposition, she said she plans to work with advocacy organizations to make Democratic support for gun reform clear come Election Day.

“We need to be sure that young people stay engaged and they don't just condemn all government — they are more specific about who's at fault here, and remember that elections have consequences,” Titus said. 

Police say the UNLV shooter bought his gun legally in 2022.

Lee said she shares gun violence victims’ frustration at Congress for inaction. She said she will continue discussing various Democrat-proposed measures with Republicans; Democrats have been circulating several discharge petitions, which force floor votes if they get 217 signatures, to ban assault weapons, expand background checks and close the “Charleston loophole,” which allows gun sales to proceed after three days, even if a background check has not yet been performed. 

“One thing you learn in Congress is — as we learned with the Safer Communities Act — eventually, the feeling on the ground just becomes so intense that people cannot ignore it,” Lee said, citing the bipartisan compromise bill passed in 2022 in the wake of the Uvalde, Texas mass shooting that tightened background check requirements for gun buyers under 21 and increased funding for security at schools and mental health programs.

But Lee echoed Titus’ sentiment that only Democratic electoral victories will result in stronger bills being passed.

Around the Capitol

🚄All aboard Brightline West — The Las Vegas-based delegation is all aboard the $3 billion federal grant to Brightline West for its planned high-speed rail line from Las Vegas to Rancho Cucamonga, in Southern California.

So is the Biden administration. Senior administration officials said they expect this line to generate countrywide buzz for high-speed rail and, upon successful opening, represent a watershed moment for public-private partnerships on trains.

“It’s going to be done by the beginning of the [2028] Olympics,” Mitch Landrieu, the Biden administration’s infrastructure czar, said on a call with reporters Thursday. “The virtues of that speak for itself.”

🛩️Up in the Air Force In October, Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) proposed that the federal government expand the Desert National Wildlife Refuge outside of Las Vegas in exchange for the installation of 15 new threat emitters, which simulate adversaries’ air defense systems, in the overlapping Nevada Test and Training Range, at the request of the Air Force.

The Air Force’s request is included in the conferenced version of the National Defense Authorization Act — which combines the House and Senate’s bills — but the conservation piece is not. The 15 threat emitters still represents a much smaller footprint than what was envisioned in the Air Force’s 2018 environmental impact statement expressing broader interest in the site.

Cortez Masto still supports the inclusion of the threat emitters, her office said.

🏛️¡Dale! on DALE — Multiple Las Vegas undocumented workers went to the White House Thursday to ask the Biden administration to renew Deferred Action for Labor Enforcement (DALE) protections for workers who are part of labor disputes over workplace protections.

Multiple Las Vegans received this status after reporting workplace abuse at Unforgettable Coatings, a paint and coatings contractor found liable for wage theft and worker intimidation. Some are now facing the termination of their legal status and are asking for their work permits to be renewed.

“It’s impossible to think they might cancel our work authorization when we haven’t even received our stolen wages after being victims of wage theft,” Arriba Las Vegas Workers Center leader Rosario Ortiz said in a statement.

Rosen vs. the progressives — Rosen took to the Senate floor Wednesday to push back on some Senate Democrats’ calls to condition aid to Israel on a more humanitarian approach to its bombing campaign in Gaza. Some of her colleagues are raising concerns that the U.S. would be offering a “blank check” to the Israeli Defense Forces. 

Rosen advocated for unconditional aid to Israel, saying her colleagues know U.S. law means such a package would not be tantamount to a blank check, and that conditioning aid would embolden Hamas.

🌊It’s a Wash — Nevada’s two senators are sponsoring a bill to extend funding for the Las Vegas Wash by $25 million.

The Wash is an urban river that filters and funnels water from the Las Vegas Valley to Lake Mead. The bill the senators introduced would fund erosion control and revegetation projects undertaken by the Southern Nevada Water Authority and the Bureau of Reclamation.

Notable and Quotable:

“There's an election in November. And those communities who want to change can change [the] people who are sitting in the seat of power, to elect people who are going to enact legislation that will keep them safe.” 

— Rep. Susie Lee (D-NV), on how to pass legislation tackling gun violence

Legislative Tracker

CATHERINE CORTEZ MASTO

Legislation sponsored:

S.3418 — A bill to amend the Water Resources Development Act of 2000 to modify the authorization of appropriations for the Las Vegas Wash program, and for other purposes.

JACKY ROSEN

Legislation co-sponsored:

S.3418 — A bill to amend the Water Resources Development Act of 2000 to modify the authorization of appropriations for the Las Vegas Wash program, and for other purposes.

DINA TITUS

Legislation co-sponsored:

H.R.6592 — To authorize the secretary of education to provide grants to local educational agencies to cover the costs of challenges to determinations not to discontinue the use of specific instructional materials, or the availability of specific school library materials, in public elementary and secondary schools, and for other purposes.

H.R.6618 — To require the transfer of regulatory control of certain munitions exports from the Department of Commerce to the Department of State, and for other purposes.

H.R.6634 — To increase the capacity of the Department of Labor and labor enforcement agencies of States to address labor violations, and for other purposes.

H.R.6652 — To amend the Equal Credit Opportunity Act to require the collection of small business loan data related to LGBTQI-owned businesses.

MARK AMODEI

Legislation co-sponsored:

H.R.6578 — To establish the Commission to Study Acts of Antisemitism in the United States.

H.R.6624 — To amend the Justice for United States Victims of State Sponsored Terrorism Act to provide rules for payments to Havlish Settling Judgment Creditors.

SUSIE LEE

Legislation sponsored:

H.R.6576 — To improve the full-service community school program, and for other purposes.

STEVEN HORSFORD

Legislation co-sponsored:

H.R.6592 — To authorize the secretary of education to provide grants to local educational agencies to cover the costs of challenges to determinations not to discontinue the use of specific instructional materials, or the availability of specific school library materials, in public elementary and secondary schools, and for other purposes.

SHARE

Featured Videos

7455 Arroyo Crossing Pkwy Suite 220 Las Vegas, NV 89113
© 2024 THE NEVADA INDEPENDENT
Privacy PolicyRSSContactJobsSupport our Work
The Nevada Independent is a project of: Nevada News Bureau, Inc. | Federal Tax ID 27-3192716