NPR: Las Vegas House Rep. On Las Vegas Shooting: ‘It’s Hard To Imagine’

Oct 5, 2017
In The News

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

We are continuing our coverage of the aftermath of the worst mass shooting in the modern history of our country. This took place last night in Las Vegas. The authorities say at least 50 people are dead, more than 400 have been taken to hospitals. Gunfire rained down on a crowd of nearly 22,000 people at the Route 91 Harvest festival country music performance last night. Just moments ago, President Trump spoke about the shooting at the White House.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Our unity cannot be shattered by evil. Our bonds cannot be broken by violence, and though we feel such great anger at the senseless murder of our fellow citizens, it is our love that defines us today.

GREENE: And the president called on Americans to unify around this moment.

TRUMP: Hundreds of our fellow citizens are now mourning the sudden loss of a loved one - a parent, a child, a brother or sister. We cannot fathom their pain. We cannot imagine their loss. To the families of the victims, we are praying for you, and we are here for you. And we ask God to help see you through this very dark period.

GREENE: OK. I want to bring in Democratic Congresswoman Dina Titus. She represents Nevada's first congressional district, which includes Las Vegas. Congresswoman, good morning to you and our condolences to your community.

DINA TITUS: Well, thank you very much. It's a beautiful day here in Las Vegas and hard to imagine such a horrific thing has happened here in district one.

GREENE: I guess you're saying beautiful because it's nice weather, which always must be such an eerie thing when you're dealing with tragedy and death like this.

TITUS: Well, that's right. It was a beautiful evening last night when people just went out for some entertainment and a good time here in Las Vegas, and then to be so brutally attacked, it's hard to imagine.

GREENE: We just listened to President Trump speak, and I wonder what reflections you have after listening to him.

TITUS: Well, I certainly appreciate his comments. They were appropriate. We have to be strong in times like this. And Las Vegas is strong. You know, we kind of have a bull's eye on us. There are many soft targets here from concerts to NASCAR races to New Year's Eve. And that's why our local law enforcement has trained so to be ready for it. And I think you saw that last night, and I'm just so grateful to the first responders, to the medical personnel, to the private security at Mandalay Bay. They all worked together and knew just what to do and acted the way they should have.

GREENE: Sounds like you've seen some of this up close. I gather you were at one of the hospitals this morning, and we've been told they've just been so overwhelmed with victims coming in. What did you see and hear from people there?

TITUS: Well, throughout the night, we were briefed periodically. Mainly, we wanted to just stay out of the way. You don't want to turn a human tragedy into a political event. They have enough to worry about. But we have heard just stories of heroism. Off-duty cops who were just at the concert for pleasure were able to figure out where the shots were coming from, help people hunker down. Some friends of one of my staff members were there. They were running, about to be trampled, didn't know where to go, what to do. Some strangers just opened the car door and pulled them inside so they'd be safe. Those are the kind of stories you're hearing. So today, we will be giving blood. We will be visiting hospitals, seeing if we can help provide any kind of solace or assistance.

GREENE: In terms of going forward, I wonder what you think of your role. I mean, the president sort of referred to this, that people at a moment like this are looking for meaning. They're looking for answers. What do you as a lawmaker do now in the coming days and weeks?

TITUS: Well, we certainly want to be sure that Las Vegas has the funding that it needs to fight these kinds of attacks. That's something that's a challenge every year. Also I'm a co-sponsor of a number of anti-gun violence bills. Tomorrow, when the healing begins, we will talk about that. Too many times I've stood for a moment of silence on the floor of the House when these shootings have occurred in other districts of my friends and other places around the country. Surely, surely, there will come a point where some members will want to do something.

GREENE: You know, there's just this fundamental disagreement when it comes to the issue you're talking about. There are a lot of people who say that - and a lot of - a lot of your colleagues in Congress who say that it's not about tighter gun laws. That is not the solution. Part of the solution might be making sure that guns don't get in the hands of people with mental illness and a lot of people might be able to get around a solution like that. There are others who say that tighter gun laws is absolutely the solution. I know you've probably been involved in your share of conversations where those positions have come up. Do you - do you get the sense that the conversation would change in any fundamental way now?

TITUS: Well, you would hope so, but back when those little first-grade children were killed in Connecticut, I thought it would change then. Much like President Obama through the course of his two terms had to face this, he got angry and said, when will we do something? You know, you're not talking about taking away people's guns. You're just talking about some common-sense safety measures, whether it's assault weapons or silencers. Those kind of things are far short of doing away with the Second Amendment. It's just that people don't want to talk about doing anything.

GREENE: Congresswoman Dina Titus represents Nevada's first congressional district, which includes part of Las Vegas. Congresswoman, we are all thinking about your community this morning, and we really appreciate you taking the time to talk to us.

TITUS: Well, thank you for your sympathies.