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Eye on the Fifth

By Daniel Smith

It was one of those events that still shocks us – despite the numbing frequency of acts of extreme violence in this county.

An attack on a country music concert in Las Vegas attended by more than 20,000 people – people gunned down by a madman armed with multiple rifles, firing at helpless victims from 32 stories high in a luxury hotel.

At least 58 people were killed in the melee, nearly 500 more wounded by bullets or in the mad rush to flee. The gunman used so-called “bump stocks” on several of the rifles, allowing them to fire as rapidly as a machine gun with high-capacity ammo magazines.

The killer took the coward’s way out, killing himself as police moved in, and victim’s families, law enforcement and most Americans were left to ponder again what could motivate such senseless violence against innocent strangers.

The carnage earned this massacre the title of largest mass shooting in modern American history – surpassing other recent slaughters at the Pulse nightclub in Florida, the Sandy Hook school shooting in Connecticut or so many other real-life horror stories of recent years.

As in the aftermath of other mass shootings, voices were raised again for action to at least pass reasonable gun restrictions that might prevent a killer from using unfathomable firepower to take so many lives in mere minutes.

Thus far, as in the past, the debate has been initiated, but in the U.S. Congress, little resolve has been demonstrated to finally, firmly do something to curb the ease with which such mass slaughter can happen.

[InContentAdTwo] Even the National Rifle Association, which some of us remember as a group that helped teach firearm safety in high school, not the powerful gun manufacturers’ lobbying arm whose deluge of dollars and threats of election revenge cows lawmakers from opposing their agenda under the guise of protecting the Second Amendment, seemed to sound open to banning bump stocks, at least initially.

As of this writing, it appeared Republicans in control of Congress were going to be content to let federal agencies such as Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms or others seek regulation rather than undertake any meaningful legislative solutions to a national cancer growing unchallenged.

While the election is a year off, candidates for the Fifth Congressional District were invited to comment and answer this question:

In the wake of the massacre in Las Vegas, do you support or reject efforts to enact moderate gun control legislation, such as banning so-called bump stocks to modify semi-automatic guns into nearly fully automatic weapons or banning high volume ammo magazines? Explain.

Democratic Candidate Betty Field of Colorado Springs was the first to respond:

“I do support legislation banning items such as bump stocks. I would also support legislation prohibiting the ownership of assault weapons by civilians,” she said. “I support an individual’s right to protect themselves, their loved ones and property. I support the right for individuals to engage in legal game hunting. Assault weapons are used solely for so-called “sport’’ and for killing as many people as possible, in as little time (as) possible,” she added.

Another district Republican candidate, Darryl Glenn, responded that he would be developing a position in a couple of weeks. When pressed that we were working on a deadline, he responded:

“Please just state that I will be issuing a comprehensive statement in a couple of weeks.”

Democrat Stephany Rose Spaulding of Colorado Springs also responded:

“Once again with the mass shooting in Las Vegas we find ourselves as a nation in need of leaders who understand that we absolutely need comprehensive reform to gun legislation. We need Congressional Representatives who know that federally regulated background checks that include regular mental health assessments, regulations that are the standard across states, as well as bans on assault and military grade weaponry protect us as a nation. We need direct legislative action now.”

The incumbent’s new district representative, Dean Miller, forwarded this statement from Doug Lamborn:

“The Las Vegas shooting is a heartbreaking tragedy and my sympathies are with the victims and their families. Our Second Amendment is the blueprint for important American liberties and it certainly deserves continued, responsible dialogue and legislation. Completely banning gun modifications is unreasonable when, regretfully, other weapons and means are just as likely to be used to commit violent crimes.”

In another issue of district interest, Lamborn and Rep. Scott Tipton, both members of the House Natural Resources Committee, supported a piece of legislation since approved by the House that would seriously limit the authority of U.S. Presidents to declare national monuments and allow the designation to be revoked by a president. Alarmingly, critics point out this could well open up many public lands in the west to drilling, mining and commercial development. Even the name attached to the bill smacks of an intent to deceive voters, as pointed out by the local Friends of Browns Canyon, which issued the following statement:

“The House Natural Resources Committee approved HR 3990, the ironically-named “National Monument Creation and Protection Act.” (hint: it does the opposite). Not only does it restrict the President’s ability to establish National Monuments, but it also gives the President the ability to revoke a Monument’s status. Not only is this a threat to Browns Canyon, it puts all Monuments at risk. Colorado Representatives Doug Lamborn and Scott Tipton are both on the committee and voted yes in the party line vote. It now advances to the Senate for a vote.”

Friends of Browns Canyon urged residents to contact Senator Bennett (202-224-5852) and Senator Gardner (202-224-5941) and urge them to defeat the measure, and called for protest calls to Lamborn and Tipton for not representing the majority of Colorado citizens by voting for this bill.

The Friends of Browns Canyon also provided a link to an article from The Salt Lake Tribune that reveals the threat to the 111-year-old Antiquities Act under which monuments have been designated: