Com­mis­sion­ers dis­cuss Las Ve­gas tragedy

The Phoenix - - LOCAL NEWS - By Os­car Gam­ble ogam­ble@21st-cen­tu­ry­media. com @OGam­ble_TH on Twit­ter

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.

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