After Vegas shooting, Congress must finally act

The shooter’s vantage point - one of two broken windows on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino.
The shooter’s vantage point - one of two broken windows on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino. AP

Assassination attempts of members of Congress in 2011 and in 2017 didn’t move congressional Republicans to act to limit the availability of horribly lethal firearms.

Nor did the slaughter of 20 children and six educators at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012, or the killings of 14 people at a Christmas party in San Bernardino in 2015, or the 49 deaths at Pulse nightclub in Orlando in 2016.

Maybe Congress will act now that Stephen Paddock rained hell down from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas on 22,000 country and western concertgoers, killing 59 people and wounding 527.

We do not expect a gun ban. But steps must be taken. Republicans who control Congress need to drop their effort to pass the cynically named “Sportsmen’s Heritage and Recreational Enhancement Act.”

HR 3668 would deregulate silencers. We urge supporters to reconsider.

“Suppressors are important devices to reduce hearing damage for shooters — my father suffered from it — as well as to reduce noise at shooting ranges located near residential areas,” McClintock wrote. We’re sorry for McClintock’s father’s hearing loss. We hope he and other members of Congress listen to the cries from Las Vegas.

Separate congressional legislation would require states with sensible gun control measures to honor permits to carry concealed weapons issued by states with lax laws. What happened in Las Vegas must result in its timely end.

The nonprofit Gun Violence Archive reports there have been 273 mass shootings since the start of 2017. Three people died in Lawrence, Kan., a few hours after Paddock, a 64-year-old man from Mesquite, Nev., committed his terrible act. If only they had a voice to counter that of the gun industry lobby.

Nationally, 23,520 people have been injured by gunfire this year, including the nearly 600 people in Las Vegas. Some will be paralyzed. Many will lose the use of limbs. Some will face pain for as long they live. Victims who survive getting shot in the head probably will be unable to resume any sort of normal life. All will suffer from some level of post-traumatic stress, changing them and their loved ones forever.

California wisely limits gun purchases to one a month. We don’t know whether such a restriction would have reduced the carnage in Las Vegas. But authorities said he had 17 weapons with him at the hotel, including two on tripods at the windows, and hundreds of rounds of ammunition with him. Police later found 25 more weapon and explosives in his homes and car for a total of 42.

There is no place in civilian life for military-style, semi-automatic rifles. Their purpose is to maim and kill many victims as possible in short periods of time. They must be banned, as they were for a decade.

Thoughts and prayers are well and good. But they’re only lip service if we don’t take the actions we know we must take.

This editorial first appeared in the Sacramento Bee.