Guest column:

Lawmakers, it’s time to let us keep Las Vegas safe


Wade Vandervort

A girl looks at crosses that are dedicated to the victims of the Oct. 1 shooting massacre, during a sunrise remembrance ceremony at the Clark County Government Center, Monday, Oct. 1, 2018.

It’s been more than a year and a half since the Oct. 1 shooting, but the pain and devastation of that night remains with me today and will stay with me forever. I was there that terrible night.

But I was one of the lucky ones — I walked away with my life. Fifty-eight people did not, and another 600-plus gunshot victims continue to live with the physical and emotional toll every single day.

In the wake of the shooting, many in our community wanted to act. Unfortunately, due to Nevada’s “preemption” law, county governments in Nevada have been forbidden from taking action to prevent a mass shooting or to otherwise prevent gun violence in our communities. Clark County’s hands were tied, unable to pass common-sense gun legislation. Gov. Steve Sisolak, who served as chair of the County Commission at the time, stated that, “Unfortunately, some of these things the Legislature has tied our hands on… this is one example where we need more flexibility and control handed over to the local governments.”

Thankfully, we finally have an opportunity to change that.

This spring, our state Assembly took decisive action in passing Assembly Bill 291, a package of gun violence prevention measures that include a repeal of the preemption law, which bars local governments from approving gun ordinances more strict than those in state statutes.

This represents, at long last, the change that we have fought for in the wake of the Route 91 shooting.

It’s a change that came about due to the endless hours and efforts by everyday Nevadans who have witnessed too much bloodshed to sit by and do nothing. Introduced by Assemblywoman Sandra Jauregui, a Route 91 survivor herself, this bill is a vehicle for justice for the thousands of victims and survivors.

It would give decision-making power back to counties across the state, allowing them to create laws and regulations that make sense for their own communities.

We recognize that the solutions to gun violence in Las Vegas aren’t the same as in White Pine,  Churchill, or our other rural counties. Localities shouldn’t be subject to unnecessary state government intrusion into matters that they can control in their own communities.

If we can agree on anything in our state, it’s that we should be able to act on what’s in our own best interest. If Las Vegas or Reno need to strengthen laws and school security measures in response to mass shootings and urban violence, they should be able to do so, just as rural communities should be able to take actions they view as appropriate to combat family fire incidents like suicide and unintentional shootings.

The Assembly has acted. Now it’s time for Gov. Sisolak and our state Senate to do the same and pass this preemption repeal. The governor lamented Las Vegas’s inability to act last year, and he now has the opportunity to right this wrong.

Because of how our state government functions, this has been the first time since the October 2017 shooting that we’ve had an opportunity for justice. Should we falter here, it won’t be until 2021 until we can act.

It’s been a long 19 months since Route 91 waiting for the opportunity we have right now. It would be a longer two years fearing another mass shooting should we miss it now.

Heather Sallan is the co-president of Brady Nevada.