Las Vegas — Prosecutors Against Gun Violence (PAGV) gathered for its tenth convening on October 4th at a conference entitled, "The New Norm: Mass Shootings in America." Elected and senior prosecutors from 30 cities and counties around the United States participated in the daylong conference, hosted by Clark County District Attorney Steve Wolfson.
Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer, Co-Chair of PAGV, said: "News of a mass shooting at a bar in Kansas City, Kansas, emerged just as many PAGV members were leaving our mass shootings summit. Now, more than ever, law enforcement needs to take an all-hands-on-deck approach to fighting gun violence. Prosecutors must work toward preventing mass shootings and prosecute threats before they can be acted upon. And as we just learned, even in instances where the shooter dies, there is an important role to play in crime scene investigations, evidence processing, family assistance centers, ongoing victims’ services, and community rebuilding."
Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., Co-Chair of PAGV, said: "As an organization, we work to protect the nation against gun violence in all forms, not just mass shootings. Not so long ago, mass shootings were far from ordinary. Two decades ago, in fact, the news that a couple of teenagers had opened fire in a high school in Colorado shook the nation because, at that time, that type of tragedy was unconscionable and, largely, unheard of. Now, mass shootings are 'The New Norm.' As what constitutes as normal changes, we, as prosecutors, must also change our approaches, because we are charged with continuing to keep our communities safe regardless of how commonplace a particular evil becomes."
Clark County District Attorney Steve Wolfson said: "It’s sad to say but, yes, we have a 'New Norm' in the United States. Because of this, we must learn from past experiences, and prepare for future events. However, it’s not just about mass shootings. All forms of gun violence in America need to be addressed. We, as prosecutors, play a vital role in leading the charge to find ways to decrease gun violence in our communities."
DA Wolfson hosted the summit in Las Vegas two years after the deadliest mass shooting in United States history occurred on the Las Vegas Strip at the Route 91 Harvest music festival on October 1, 2017. Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo, Clark County Coroner John Fudenberg, and retired Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department Detective and 1 October hero Rick Golgart participated in a "Case Study: 1 October" panel moderated by DA Wolfson.
Other panels at the conference focused on "The Role of a Prosecutor’s Office in Mass Shootings," featuring Colonel Michael Mulligan (ret.), the lead prosecutor in US v. Hasan (Fort Hood); Deputy Utah County Attorney Chad Grunander, who successfully prosecuted a person who threatened to commit a mass shooting; Ventura County District Attorney Greg Totten, whose office has been instrumental in family assistance and community rebuilding following a mass shooting in Thousand Oaks in November 2018; and Kasey Halcón, Director the Santa Clara District Attorney’s Victim Services Unit, who aided approximately 800 people following the mass shooting at the Gilroy Garlic Festival in California this summer.
Panels also explored: The Mind of a Mass Shooter; Combatting Domestic Terrorism, Extremism, and White Supremacy, with experts from ADL’s Center on Extremism and the Southern Poverty Law Center; The Role of the Internet in Mass Shootings; Emerging Legislative and Policy Issues at the State and Federal Levels; Preventing Mass Shootings at Public Events, featuring senior security and investigative experts and a former FBI Assistant Director; and The Voice of the Next Generation, including two student leaders active in March For Our Lives and the organizer of a Gun Violence Prevention Fellowship housed within the Manhattan DA’s Office. Representatives from Giffords, Everytown for Gun Safety, Moms Demand Action, and March For Our Lives were also among the approximately 100 people in attendance at the conference.
In connection with the summit, PAGV is partnering with the William S. Boyd School of Law at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, to produce a white paper on the issue of mass shootings in the United States. The document they create will be the first of its kind and will serve as a resource for future prosecutors confronted with mass shootings in their jurisdictions.
PAGV is an independent coalition of approximately 50 prosecutors from diverse jurisdictions throughout the United States, working toward solutions to end gun violence. The group brings together prosecutors to discuss policies, legislation, and strategies to help prevent and confront gun violence in their jurisdictions.