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Idaho delegation has little to say about role for Congress in reducing mass shootings

Queried by the Idaho Statesman, the four members of Idaho’s congressional delegation have said little about any steps Congress could take to reduce mass violence like the Oct. 1 shooting in Las Vegas. Statesman reporter Cynthia Sewell reports that only two of the four, Sens. Mike Crapo and Jim Risch, responded to the newspaper’s query at all; she also rounds up social media posts from the four on the topic. Here’s her full report:

By Cynthia Sewell, Idaho Statesman

Idaho’s delegation to Washington, D.C., is saying little at the moment about any steps Congress could take to reduce mass violence like the Oct. 1 shooting in Las Vegas.

A week after a gunman shot hundreds of people, killing dozens, at a Las Vegas Strip music festival, the national response looks very similar to what followed previous mass shootings. Politicians and TV personalities have resumed their intractable positions on gun control — though the National Rifle Association appears to have opened the door to one new regulation. It appears little else is being seriously discussed or considered in terms of how to end America’s string of shootings. Meanwhile, investigators continue to try to determine what led to last week’s violence, and survivors like Boise State student Ryenne Clancy are grappling with what they lived through.

The Statesman emailed the following questions on Oct. 4 to all four members of Idaho’s delegation. Our goal: To move beyond the familiar gridlock that paralyzes America after every shooting, and start an open-ended conversation about both the role of Congress and any measures our politicians should take to prevent future mass killings.

▪  Does Congress have a role to play in preventing future mass shootings? Why or why not?

▪  What direct, concrete actions will you take this month to help find a solution for America’s problem with mass shootings?

▪  The White House, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and other politicians, and some media outlets have said it is too soon to talk about gun policy in response to the Las Vegas mass shooting. Do you agree? If so, when is the appropriate time and who should initiate and lead that conversation?

These were their responses:

Sen. Mike Crapo: “I strongly support the Second Amendment to our Constitution and will not support legislation that does not pass constitutional review. Congress does have an appropriate role in responding to the causes of violence in America. The tragedy in Las Vegas remains under active investigation. I expect that the outcome of that investigation will be helpful to Congress in determining the appropriate congressional response.”

Sen. Jim Risch: “I have a consistent policy of not debating specific policy changes in the immediate wake of horrific, deplorable events like this. I have always supported the Second Amendment, and look forward to debates on any future proposals that might be introduced in Congress.”

1st District Rep. Raúl Labrador: No response.

2nd District Rep. Mike Simpson: No response.

Three of the four had posted reactions to social media earlier in the week about the Las Vegas shooting. Crapo and Labrador posted messages on Twitter:

Labrador: "Becca & I are praying for the victims in #LasVegas & their families. Vegas is a strong, resilient community that will overcome any tragedy." 8:08 a.m. Oct. 2, 2017

Crapo: "As our nation mourns and remembers the lives lost in Las Vegas, we gather in solidarity to uplift those left to heal and those left to grieve. I commend the selfless actions of first responders and everyday citizens who rushed to save, protect and care for their fellow man. Instances like this heinous crime seek to destroy our sense of security and aim to divide. May we unite in the fight against evil with an ever-vigilant drive toward peace." 10:59 a.m. Oct. 2, 2017

Crapo and Labrador also put these same responses on their respective Facebook pages.

Simpson, too, posted to Facebook, writing:

“Like the rest of the country, I'm stunned and horrified by the mass shooting that occurred last night in Las Vegas. Like Americans everywhere, I'm anxious to learn more about how and why this situation occurred. Though no words can heal our hurt, and no explanation will ever feel sufficient, I pray that all involved may find comfort as we process this devastating tragedy.”

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Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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