A 26-year-old gunman opened fire on a community college campus in Oregon this past week killing nine and wounding nine others before killing himself when confronted by police.
Within hours President Obama was on television declaring, “Well, this is something we should politicize. It is relevant to our common life together, to the body politic. … This is a political choice that we make to allow this to happen every few months in America. We collectively are answerable to those families who lose their loved ones because of our inaction.”
We wholeheartedly agree with the president and turn to our Nevada lawmakers and say: This is something that could have easily happened here on one of our campuses. And ask: What didn’t you do something to prevent this from happening here? How can you explain your inaction?
So, as the president encouraged you to do, ask your Nevada legislators what they did about Assembly Bill 148, commonly called “Amanda’s Law,” which would have allowed holders of concealed carry permits to take their weapons onto college campuses in Nevada and defend themselves and others from attackers.
At Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Ore., the scene of the shooting, no one, not even the security guard, was armed.
“We have a no-guns-on-campus policy,” College President Rita Calvin blithely explained to the press.
This is the current situation on Nevada campuses, because Amanda’s Law failed to pass — not once, but three times.
It passed the Assembly 25-15 this year but died in the Senate, where the Republican majority shrugged and refused to give the bill even a hearing, claiming it didn’t have enough votes to pass. (Former Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto, who is running for Harry Reid’s Senate seat, testified against the bill.)
The failed law was named for Amanda Collins, holder of a concealed carry permit and a student at the University of Nevada, Reno. In 2007, Collins was brutally raped by an armed man in a university parking garage. She was unarmed because she, unlike her attacker, was following campus rules that prohibit weapons.
Earlier this year, Collins wrote a column for the National Rifle Association about her ordeal.
“Just the other day, I was asked ‘Why do you need a firearm on campus? What’s so threatening about becoming educated?’” she wrote. “Here’s my answer: Eight years ago, during my junior year at the University of Nevada-Reno, I was raped in the parking garage only feet away from the campus police office.”
She noted while being raped with a pistol to her temple, she could see police cruisers parked for the night, and knew no one was coming to help.
Her rapist was caught, tried and convicted for raping her and two other women, including the rape and murder of a California college student who was visiting Reno.
“At the time of my attack, I had obtained my Concealed Carry Weapons (CCW) permit for the personal choice of not wanting to be a defenseless target,” Collins wrote. “In Nevada, permit holders are not allowed to carry firearms on campuses. As a law-abiding citizen, I left my firearm at home, which means that the law that is meant to ensure my safety only guaranteed the criminal an unmatched victim.”
Collins also recounted her story in 2011 before lawmakers in support of a bill that would have allowed weapons on campus for those duly licensed. The bill passed the Senate but it died in the Democrat-dominated Assembly without so much as a hearing.
The law had a similar fate in 2013.
Republicans this year had majorities in both houses of the Legislature and had a Republican governor, but lacked something. Courage?
“This is a political choice that we make to allow this to happen every few months in America,” the president said.
Yes, and there has been inaction for three consecutive sessions. What are our lawmakers waiting for?
A version of this editorial appears this past week in the Battle Born Media newspapers — The Ely Times, the Mesquite Local News, the Mineral County Independent-News, the Eureka Sentinel, Sparks Tribune and the Lincoln County Record.
Amanda Collins testifies in 2013: