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Dem attorney general candidates say thoughts, prayers aren’t enough after Las Vegas shooting

Author: Ernest Luning - October 2, 2017 - Updated: October 2, 2017

AP-Las-Vegas-Shooting-2.jpg
Las Vegas police sweep through a convention center area during a lockdown Monday, Oct. 2, 2017, at the Tropicana Las Vegas following an active shooter situation on the Las Vegas Strip. Multiple victims were transported to hospitals after a deadly shooting late Sunday at a music festival on the Las Vegas Strip. (Chase Stevens/Las Vegas Review-Journal via AP)Las Vegas police sweep through a convention center area during a lockdown Monday, Oct. 2, 2017, at the Tropicana Las Vegas following an active shooter situation on the Las Vegas Strip. Multiple victims were transported to hospitals after a deadly shooting late Sunday at a music festival on the Las Vegas Strip. (Chase Stevens/Las Vegas Review-Journal via AP)

While they all offered thoughts and prayers, some of the Democrats running for Colorado’s attorney general said that wasn’t enough and called for action in response to Sunday’s mass shooting in Las Vegas, the deadliest in the nation’s recent history.

“A little over five years ago, I stood outside a movie theater in Aurora and thought – this can never happen again,” said prosecutor Michael Dougherty, who headed the attorney general’s criminal justice section at the time of the Aurora theater shooting.

“It is time to make sure we actually follow through; our country deserves an answer to senseless gun violence.”

A gunman high above the Las Vegas strip opened fire late Sunday night on a crowd at an outdoor country music festival, killing at least 58 people and injuring more than 500.

“How many more killings will it take before meaningful gun safety legislation is passed?” asked state Rep. Joe Salazar, a Thornton Democrat.

Phil Weiser, a former dean of the CU law school and Obama administration official, likewise expressed sympathy with the victims and their families and thanked emergency responders and also called it “crucial” to do more to prevent gun violence.

“My thoughts and prayers go out to the victims and their families in the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history,” Weiser said in a statement. “My gratitude goes to the firefighters, law enforcement officers, EMTs and medical staff on the ground, who are addressing a tragic situation. As today’s tragedy makes clear, it is crucial that we do what we can to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people and prevent gun violence.”

Dougherty, Salazar and Weiser are three of the five Democrats running for the office held by Republican incumbent Cynthia Coffman, who hasn’t clarified whether she plans to run for a second term as attorney general or campaign for governor in next year’s election.

“Let me start by saying this: mass shootings are preventable,” Dougherty said. “This is not some anomaly in nature, we can’t act like we have done enough to prevent these events from taking place, we should not act like we have addressed gun violence in a meaningful way as a nation – we haven’t. My thoughts and prayers go out to the victims, survivors, and their families. But thoughts and prayers won’t prevent another mass shooting in the future – this requires real action from our leaders in Congress and at home.”

It’s similar to a note struck by some national Democrats who maintained the familiar expression of “thoughts and prayers” was insufficient in the wake of another record-breaking mass shooting.

“Thoughts & prayers are NOT enough,” Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren said on Twitter. “Not when more moms & dads will bury kids this week, & more sons & daughters will grow up without parents. Tragedies like Las Vegas have happened too many times. We need to have the conversation about how to stop gun violence. We need it NOW.”

“This morning, we woke up to another mass shooting in America. It’s being called the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history — seemingly a mindless competition of carnage from one shooting to the next,” Salazar told Colorado Politics. “At some point, when does Congress act? How many more killings will it take before meaningful gun safety legislation is passed?

“Until then, all we can do is assume the familiar position of praying for the victims, their families and a community wrecked by violence. While it may seem that the fabric of our nation is ripping apart, I hope we all recognize that it is in these dire times when we rally together and show the beauty of our human spirit.”

While some leading congressional Democrats renewed calls for the GOP-controlled Congress to take up gun-control legislation, Republicans and gun rights advocates raised what has become a familiar objection, calling it too soon to politicize a tragedy by discussing policy.

After President Donald Trump condemned the shooting as “an act of pure evil,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said it was inappropriate to discuss gun laws, telling reporters Monday, “There is a time and place for political debate, but now is the time to unite as a country.”

The other two Democrats running for attorney general — Denver attorney Brad Levin and former federal prosecutor Amy Padden — expressed shock and sadness while offering support for the victims and first-responders.

“I’m shocked and deeply saddened by the senseless act of evil that was carried out in Las Vegas yesterday evening. Our thoughts, prayers, and support goes out to the victims and their families in Las Vegas during this difficult time,” Levin wrote in a Facebook post. “I know we will heal and grow stronger through this tragedy, acknowledging that we are all affected as Americans. We need to come together to provide as much support as we can to aid medical staff, doctors, firefighters and law enforcement to help everyone involved.”

Padden also weighed in on Facebook.

“My thoughts and prayers go out to the people of Las Vegas and everyone affected by this unspeakable tragedy, and especially to the first responders who risked their lives to prevent this horrific situation from being even worse,” she wrote.

Coffman posted a graphic reading “Colorado grieves with you, Nevada” to her office’s Twitter account. It depicts the two states’ flags waving behind the Colorado attorney general’s seal.

Ernest Luning

Ernest Luning

Ernest Luning is a political correspondent for Colorado Politics. He has covered politics and government for newspapers and online news sites in Colorado for more than 25 years, including at the Highlands Ranch Herald, the Jefferson Sentinels chain of community newspapers and the Aurora Sentinel, where he was the city hall and cops reporter. After editing the Aurora Daily Sun, he was a political reporter and blogger for The Colorado Independent site. Since 2009, he has been the senior political reporter and occasional editor for The Colorado Statesman.


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