Commissioners discuss Las Vegas tragedy
The Montgomery County Commissioners discussed the tragic shooting in Las Vegas last Sunday night at their work session Thursday.
In a statement at the onset of themeeting, Commissioner Val Arkoosh spoke of her dismay upon learning of the massacre at a country music festival that left 59 people dead and hundreds more wounded at the hand of a gunman perched in a hotel room several hundred yards away.
The incident hit close to home for county personnel as they learned that one of their own, a county staff member, had attended the concert with his mother, although both of them had thankfully escaped without injury.
“I am grateful for their survival,” Arkoosh said. “Grateful for the extraordinary bravery and professionalism of the first responders and the many individuals in the crowd who risked their lives to help. I am grateful for the highly skilled medical teams that cared for the victims and, having personally spent countless nights in the operating room working to keep patients alive long enough for the surgeons to repair the damage caused by gunshot wounds, all too aware of how indescribably difficult it was at the hospitals” she added, alluding to her career as a physician with nearly three decades of experience.
“This killer had the right to own a gun,” she said. “Twenty-two thousand people also had the right to attend an open-air concert on a beautiful fall night without the expectation that they would not be gunned down.
“It is at the intersection of these two rights that this country is stuck. It is long past time to get unstuck, and in the finest tradition that is America, conduct open and honest debate on these issues.
“At the time that the Second Amendment was written, our greatest and best technology was a musket. I hope that we can all agree that accessories like bump stocks (the modification device used by the gunman to essentially transform his semi-automatic rifle into an automatic one) and silencers (currently being debated in Congress) are certainly not covered by the Second Amendment.
“Surely we can do better,” she added, imploring members of Congress to engage with the issue and authorize funds for research on gun violence.
Commissioner Ken Lawrence Jr. largely echoed Arkoosh’s sentiments.
“No one needs that amount of firepower,” he said. “You’re not hunting with that, you’re not protecting yourself with that, so clearly something went dramatically wrong with the system that somebody could have that lethal amount of firepower to turn on innocent citizens, so I would call on Con- gress, I would call on our state legislators, because it’s not right and this does not happen in other countries.”
Commissioner Joe Gale extended his condolences to the victims and their families and, like Arkoosh, expressed admiration for the first responders and civilians who came to their aid.
“It’s possible that these types of acts could best be prevented by treating mental illness,” he said. “And what we do know is that where there’s a will there’s a way, and it’s not only guns. Other tools have been used to commit murders such as pressure cookers; automobiles filled with explosives in the past. And fewer guns do not equate to less mentally deranged people, and we should also look into that area.”
When Gale was asked about the a legal availability of bump stocks he said the issue “should be reviewed” and “we can improve the system so that guns don’t end up in the hands of mentally ill people.”
“I’m in favor of improvements that are common sense but that also support the constitutional rights of law-abiding citizens who want to protect themselves and their families.”
Montgomery County Commissioners, from left, Joe Gale, Val Arkoosh and Ken Lawrence Jr.