After Las Vegas experienced the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history on October 1, 2017, local authorities prepared for the worst and stepped up security to prevent a repeat attack on New Year’s Eve. Their preparation paid off, as “America’s Party” went down without any major disturbances.
But just a few blocks off The Strip, Las Vegas locals suffered another round of deadly gun violence during the winter holidays. These shootings served as a tragic reminder that three months after the 1 October Las Vegas Shooting, Nevada and the nation are still affected by gun violence every day.
“America’s Party” went down without a hitch
Not wanting to take any chances with so many people packed onto the Las Vegas Strip, Las Vegas Metro Police and federal authorities deployed a record number of officers to patrol the streets and the skies to ensure a happy new year for revelers inside and outside the casinos. Their efforts paid off, as New Year’s Eve celebrations throughout the Las Vegas Strip and Downtown Las Vegas remained safe for all who attended.
But off the Strip, it was a very different story
Even as the Las Vegas Strip remained safe for tourists, many locals experienced a much more tragic and violent end to 2017. Less than a 30 minute drive away in an East Las Vegas neighborhood, a man was setting off New Year’s fireworks with his girlfriend and another friend when he was interrupted by a car that pulled up to them. The man was shot dead by one of the occupants in the car.
Sadly, this wasn’t even the final shooting of the year. Just hours later, another shooting incident was reported in the northeast valley. A man was found dead in what police described as self-defense, as the shooter apparently killed a man who had intruded his family’s SUV.
2017: A brutal year of gun violence in Southern Nevada
In the final ten days of 2017, some 17 people were killed in the Las Vegas Valley. Those included four people shot, two fatally and two critically, at an East Las Vegas apartment on December 27, three people shot dead at a North Las Vegas apartment on December 28, another three people shot dead at different North Las Vegas apartment complex on December 29, and two security officers shot dead at the Arizona Charlie’s Decatur casino on December 30.
These shootings capped off an exceptionally deadly year for the Las Vegas region, as Metro Police investigated a grand total of 169 homicides. This is the the highest number of homicides investigated by the police since at least 1990.
As lawmakers ignore the problem, gun violence takes its toll
The 1 October Las Vegas Shooting initially made headline news around the world, but national media coverage faded away by the end of that week. A similar phenomenon has occurred with gun safety legislation in Congress, as these bills initially draw national interest and bipartisan support, then fades from the federal government’s agenda once the gun lobby announces its opposition and national media attention turns to other matters.
Meanwhile, gun violence continues to rage throughout the nation. On New Year’s Day alone, 132 people were shot, and 52 of them died from their gunshot injuries. As deadly of a year as 2017 turned out to be, 2018 already shows no signs of abatement.
What’s (not) being done about gun violence
Even though local law enforcement received reinforcement when it came to securing the Las Vegas Strip on New Year’s Eve, they haven’t secured a critical tool to keep guns out of the wrong hands. Despite Nevada voters’ approval of the Question 1 Background Checks Initiative in 2016, Governor Brian Sandoval (R) and Attorney General Adam Laxalt (R) continue to refuse to enforce the initiative.
That’s not all. Last month, the U.S. House passed legislation to require all states to honor concealed carry permits from any state. The bill, H.R. 38, now awaits action in the Senate. If it were to become law, even states with minimal safety standards would have their concealed carry permits honored across the nation.
And yet, gun violence continues to hit our communities and our nation. Even when these shootings are not making national headlines, families are still losing loved ones. Even when world-famous New Year’s Eve celebrations pass without any major disruptions, shots are still fired just a few miles away.
Cover photo by Tony Webster, made available by Wikimedia, and licensed under Creative Commons.