Lawmakers talk gun violence solutions with UNLV students, community members

Nevada Rep. Susie Lee meets with UNLV students, community members and parents on Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2024 at Spring Valley Library for Gun Violence Awareness Week.

By Lorraine Longhi

January 24, 2024

Gun Violence Awareness Week marks the point in the year where gun deaths in the US surpass the number of gun deaths that other developed countries see in an entire year.

Mack Gledhill shed tears Tuesday recounting the moment they and other UNLV students were forced to shelter in place during an on-campus shooting last month where three professors were killed and a fourth wounded.

“It’s hard to reconcile the feelings that it could be all over when you’re only 23 years old,” Gledhill said. “Now I have to go to class and have panic attacks, when I should be focusing on my education and my future.”

On Tuesday, Gledhill and other UNLV students impacted by the shooting met with Florida Congressman Maxwell Frost, who was just one federal lawmaker meeting with community members during Gun Violence Awareness Week.

This week marks the point in the year where gun deaths in the US surpass the number of gun deaths that other developed countries see in an entire year.

Each day in the US, roughly 120 people are killed with guns, while more than 200 are shot and wounded, giving the country a gun death rate 26 times higher than other developed countries, according to Everytown for Gun Safety, a nonprofit that works to educate the public about gun violence.

Frost, who is the first member of Gen-Z elected to Congress and who worked with the student-led March for Our Lives, said that each day the country waits to act on gun violence, more lives are lost.

“We need to be impatient about it, we need to demand more, and we need to ensure that we get the stars to align here in the federal government so we can pass an assault weapons ban, so we can pass universal background checks,” he said.

Doctoral student Taylor Cummings called Tuesday’s conversation with Frost productive, and said the chance to speak with the congressman was a good opportunity to have a meaningful discussion about something important to the UNLV community.

Still, she said she was left curious about what the congressman’s involvement or support would look like moving forward from the conversation, and expressed a desire to prioritize the psychological safety of the school community, in addition to their physical safety.

“I don’t know that we have too much trust in things being actualized, so I’m interested to see what tangible products come from a tragic experience like this,” she said.

Frost successfully championed an effort last year to create the Office of Gun Violence Prevention, the first federal office establishing a coordinated response to the gun violence crisis. However, Republicans in Congress have continued to block efforts to pass an assault weapons ban and universal background check requirements that Frost and other Democrats support.

Lawmakers talk gun violence solutions with UNLV students, community members

UNLV student Mack Gledhill hugs Florida Congressman Maxwell Frost after a conversation about gun violence on Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2024 at Cambridge Recreation Center in Las Vegas, Nevada.

‘They don’t get to feel comfortable’

Nevada Rep. Susie Lee also held a discussion Tuesday with UNLV students, community leaders, and parents who had been impacted by gun violence at the Spring Valley Library Tuesday.

The group advocated for more funding and resources, while discussing the myriad ways that violence has trickled down through the community, starting as far back as elementary school.

UNLV students Hoffman Madzou and Deshaunn Shipp expressed appreciation for Lee coming out and hosting the dialogue.

But for Gledhill, the issue of gun violence has ultimately persisted for far too long.

Born in 2000, a year after the mass shooting at Columbine High School in Colorado, they reflected on how gun violence had pervaded their life and the lives of their loved ones in the years since.

Gledhill said there was a moral imperative to urge state lawmakers to do something, while acknowledging how difficult it was for young people to grasp their political power because of how complex government systems can be.

State Democrats worked to pass several pieces of gun safety legislation in the wake of the Oct. 1, 2017 mass shooting at the Route 91 Harvest Festival. However, Republican Gov. Joe Lombardo vetoed several bills last year that would have raised the age to own certain weapons and prohibited those with a history of certain crimes from owning weapons, among other reforms.

Still, Gledhill maintained that local government could make a difference.

“It’s time to protest, it’s time to embarrass your public officials,” they said. “They don’t get to feel comfortable. We need to make them uncomfortable, because I can’t even walk around my campus and feel safe.”

Reach the reporter at [email protected].

 

  • Lorraine Longhi

    Lorraine Longhi is a reporter for The Nevadan and native of the southwest. A graduate of Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism & Mass Communication, she spent eight years reporting in Arizona, including at The Arizona Republic and The Copper Courier, where she covered education, health care and state politics. She returned to Las Vegas, her hometown, last year as an education reporter for the Las Vegas Review-Journal, where she was later promoted to assistant city editor

CATEGORIES: GUN REFORM | POLITICS

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