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The Brady Campaign Says Now Is The Time To Talk About Guns

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Crime tape surrounds the area where 58 people were shot and killed across the street from Mandalay Bay.

The questions started coming – many from callers to this program – in the immediate aftermath of the shooting at the Route 91 Harvest Festival concert Sunday night:

How did this shooter get so many guns?

How did he get 23 guns through a casino and into his hotel suite?

How did he get so much ammunition?

And, perhaps most tellingly, the questions, “How can we stop this?” was discarded in favor of “This is heartbreaking, but there is nothing we can do to stop this.”

Well, Kris Brown thinks that’s not true. She’s the co-president of the Brady Campaign Against Gun Violence and she's visiting Las Vegas in the aftermath of Sunday's violence. 

“The thing that is very frustrating to me as the leader of the Brady Campaign is that this really isn’t a controversial issue," she said, "Ninety-three percent of people in the United States believe that we should have expanded background checks.”

Brown said Congress needs to stop debating bills like the proposal before them now that would deregulate the use of silencers and focus on changes to protect people.

“We have a problem with mass shootings," she said, "We have a problem when 93 Americans a day die from gun violence and we need to do something about it and we have the answers right before us."

Brown says those answers include expanding background checks for all gun sales in every state. Right now, there is just a patchwork of laws in 19 states that require background checks for all gun sales.

Nevadans voted for expanded background checks in November but currently, the ballot measure is being held up by Attorney General Adam Laxalt. Laxalt has cited technical issues, in a dispute with the FBI about who will do the checks.

"If the Attorney General wanted to, he could put this measure in today, and he could enforce it today," said Brown.

Brown said the safety of guns could be improved just like we did with cars. It used to be much more dangerous to drive down the road in America, but now there are layers of protections in cars, including seat belts and airbags to help save lives.

“We can do something about it but what we have to do is focus on it as the public health epidemic that it truly is," she said.

In past mass shootings, people who have argued against tightening any rules around guns have said those new rules would not have prevented the tragedy.

And as more information emerges about where Stephen Paddock got the guns he used, that same argument will most likely be used. Brown said we shouldn't focus on whether new rules would've prevented this particular tragedy.

“What we have to focus on is do we have the right layers of protection in place so that I, as an elected official, can look to the grieving mother or child or other victims and say, ‘I did everything I could to prevent this,’” Brown said.

And right now, she doesn't believe many elected officials could do that because there are systems that could be put in place to make a difference that have not been acted upon. 

Many people have remarked at the speed at which Paddock was able to kill or hurt so many people. Brown said the carnage the shooter was able to perpetrate in 10 minutes is equal to the carnage that happened in the Battle of Fallujah in Iraq in 10 days.

“There is something wrong with this country when we can’t put systems in place and reasonable protections that stop that kind of senseless violence from happening,” she said.

The doctors and nurses who worked on the injured have remarked on the wounds they encountered from the high powered weapon that was used.  

Brown says these kinds of situations are like a war zone

Brown and the Brady Campaign are also taking on the notion that people are safer with a gun in their homes. She says statistics just don't bear that out.

"Sixty-three percent of Americans believe that a gun makes their home safer. This is a tragic lie," said Brown.

She said having a gun in the home makes it more likely that it will be used against you and drastically increases the risk of suicide.

Her organization is looking to create a groundswell through social media and is trying to appeal to people on an emotional level, with stories of victims and survivors.


Kris Brown, co-president of the Brady Campaign Against Gun Violence

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(EDITOR'S NOTE: Carrie Kaufman no longer works for KNPR News. She left in April 2018)