Gun control issue takes center stage in Las Vegas

LAS VEGAS - Gun control is an issue in the presidential campaign and came up during Tuesday night’s Democratic presidential candidate debate in Las Vegas.

Lonnie and Sandy Phillips stood alongside Democratic presidential candidate and former Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley during an event in Las Vegas Wednesday. They advocate stricter gun laws.

“Three years and three months ago, our daughter was murdered in the Aurora theater shooting,” Sandy said.

“They have been transforming that loss and bringing greater awareness,” O’Malley said.

The Phillips say they believe in responsible gun ownership.

In Metro Police’s jurisdiction, almost 1,700 firearms have been reported stolen from January through August.

Last month, police say a minor used a stolen gun in a police ambush shooting, where one officer was shot in the hand.

The suspect told police he stole the weapon from an apartment complex patio.

“I don't think that we're looking at that at all,” said Clark County District Attorney Steve Wolfson. “I'm sure Metro is following up on what this defendant said. I don’t know if his story is true or not.”

As Democrats push for stricter gun laws, gun rights advocate and store owner Bob Irwin says universal background checks are not the way to go.

“We do everything we can to keep guns out of criminals’ hands,” he said. “The background check doesn't check to see if you're stupid. That's the problem, and I don't know how we're going to do that.”

Irwin says if criminals want to get their hands on weapons, they won't walk into a store where they would undergo a background check and fill out paperwork.

“They get them by stealing them from houses and buy them from their friends who stole one from a house,” he said.

Irwin says he invited presidential politicians to visit his store and learn about daily operations aimed at keeping weapons out of the wrong hands.

Meanwhile, the families of gun violence victims are not giving up on stricter gun laws.

“We've been fighting for three years,” Lonnie Phillips said.

According to the non-profit Violence Policy Center, Nevada is one of five states where gun deaths outnumber road deaths.

In 2013, 317 people committed suicide by gun, and 267 people died in traffic deaths.


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