San Bernardino shootings boost gun control debate


President Barack Obama said Thursday investigators are continuing to search for the motives of the people who killed 14 people in a spray of bullets in California and called on Americans to “search ourselves as a society” to find a way to curb gun violence.

Speaking to journalists in the Oval Office, Obama said there may have been “mixed motives” behind the shooting, a factor that is complicating the investigation.

“It is possible that this was terrorist-related, but we don’t know. It’s also possible this was workplace-related,” Obama said after a meeting with his national security team.

Obama repeated his case for new gun control measures – a call he’s promised to issue after every mass shooting – although he did not lay out specific proposals or criticize the Republican-led Congress for blocking tighter controls, as he often does.

Speaking softly, a subdued Obama said too often Americans feel there’s nothing they can do to prevent this kind of violence.

“We all have a part to play. As the investigation moves forward, it’s going to be important for all of us, including our legislatures, to see what we can do to make sure that when an individual decides they want to do somebody harm, we make it a little harder for them to do it. Right now, it’s just too easy.

“We’re going to have to, I think, search ourselves as a society,” he said.

The president certainly wasn’t the only politician to react to Wednesday’s mass shooting.  Local lawmakers have also weighed in as well, and they have noticeably different reactions.

But the question is: Do their reactions match those of their constituents?

Republicans have expressed that they’re sending thoughts and prayers to the victims’ families while Democrats are calling for stricter gun laws.
But how do residents feel?

UNLV surveyed registered voters across the state last year on a range of issues on the 2016 ballot.  One is a universal background check law that would require both parties in a private gun sale to go to a certified dealer to have a background check done before the transaction can be completed.

The survey found 80 percent of respondents are in favor of the initiative that is in line with the most recent Pew Research study that shows 85 percent of people support universal background checks nationwide.

One stat that stood out to the professor behind the study is that conservatives in Nevada, though less than in other parts of the country, still overwhelmingly support the ballot initiative.

“Sixty-seven percent want background checks, so for them, it’s, ‘I want to be able to have a gun and carry it, on the other hand, I don’t want just anybody to have it, said Lee Bernick, UNLV Public Policy Professor. “I’d like to have background checks, and I think that’s an interesting kind of thing.”

The “State of the State” survey consists of 526 registered voters in Nevada with an error rate of plus or minus 4.4 percent.

The results of the 2015 survey will be released next month.    

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