Bustos says Democrats alone can't stop gun violence

Illinois Rep says Republicans more interested in tax cuts

It's been a week when one story dominated the conversation more than any other. One that brought immediate anger, sadness and disbelief. Then, eventually becomes the topic of political debate.

That horrific scene we watched in Las Vegas is something this country has witnesed all too often. 

In this case, a 64-year-old millionaire with an arsenal of rifles -- some that he converted to be automatic weapons -- took aim at a country music concert from the Mandalay Bay hotel and let loose.

Now, a week later, 59 people are dead with another 527 injured. And, no one can really seem to answer why.

Mass shootings are nothing new to this country. Las Vegas joins the list of notorious crime scenes.

+ The nightclub attack in Orlando.
+ The rampage at Virginia Tech.
+ The movie theater under siege in Aurora, Colorado.
+ The atrocity at Sandy Hook.

Mass shootings aren't limited to the United States, but they happen here far more often than other industrialized countries.

Data compiled over 30 years from 1983 to 2013 counted 78 mass shootings in this country. There were another 41 in 24 other industrialized countries combined.
Germany was closest to the U.S. at seven. The United States population is roughly 323 million compared to 661 million for the other countries put together, for some per capita perspective.

Now, it's also important to recognize another point about mass shootings. They make up a very small number of gun deaths in the United States.

Check out this analysis by fivethirtyeight.com over the years 2012 to 2014:

+ The country averaged more than 33-thousand gun deaths a year.
+ Roughly two-thirds were suicides.
+ An overwhelming 85 percent of them men and boys.

Basically the remaining third of gun deaths fall into the category of homicides. That encompasses murders and mass shootings, the latter again representing a small number of them. That's almost 12,000 deaths a year, half of those young men. Two-thirds of those young men are African-American. Gang violence is responsible for a significant number of those cases. 1,700 of the homicide victims are women, most of them domestic violence cases.

Fewer than a thousand are accidental or unclassified deaths.

Invariably that leads to the discussion of ideas about how to stop this.

Criminologists and a lot of democrats point heavily to more regulations on guns. Some go to the extreme by calling for a complete ban like other countries have.

A less extreme step would be to institute restrictive gun sales.

The second amendment sets up a permissive system that lets anyone buy a gun unless the state proves he or she falls into a category to deny ownership -- mental health or criminal histories for example.

Restrictive laws switch that burden of proof to the buyer to demonstrate why he or she should be able to buy a gun for hunting or using it on shooting ranges while demonstrating good character.

They also call for expanded background checks that cover all gun sales rather than the exceptions that still exist for some private sales.

Now, another school of thought goes after the root causes in the different types of gun deaths mentioned above with government intervention, providing more money for suicide prevention, making police protection a higher priority for women at risk in domestic violence cases and investing a lot more in effective gang prevention programs.
Is one of these right and the other wrong? Is it a combination of these?

That's something that we as a society have to figure out together when we feel it's important enough to do something about it.
Every elected offical at the state and federal levels expressed their condolences for the victims of the Las Vegas attack.

Count Congresswoman Cheri Bustos among them. 

She also added, "While there is no single solution that will prevent all mass shootings, as Americans, we must come together and work to do what we can to prevent these kinds of tragedies."

There is unanimity among Americans that they don't want to see any more of this violence, but how to get there is among the most divisive issues for Americans.

It's a dichotomy that's been impossible to bridge for decades. There are those who say this isn't the right time to talk about it and the answer to that is always, "If not now, when?"

Joining us on 4 The Record for a conversation about this and other national issues is Congresswoman Cheri Bustos of Illinois.

Bustos offered some ideas for solutions, including criminal background checks and preventing those on the "can't fly" list from buying guns. 

"Whether you are a Democrat or Republican, we ought to have enough common sense to say that if you are deranged, you shouldn't be able to have a weapon," Bustos said. "Let's get real about this conversation about what can happen. We all have to rise up as leaders, as elected officials, and say that we've got a problem in this country. But let's not penalize lawful gun owners."

Bustos also reveals what the first thing she would have done "if I had elected president of the United States."

Find out what that is in the video above.

Local 4 News, your local election headquarters, is proud to present 4 The Record, a weekly news and public affairs program focused on the issues important to you.  It's a program unlike any other here in the Quad Cities. Tune in each Sunday at 10:30 a.m. as Jim Niedelman brings you up to speed on what's happening in the political arena, from Springfield, Des Moines, Washington, D.C. and right here at home.

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