(WASHINGTON) — It was an emotional day on both ends of the spectrum at the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on gun violence Wednesday. A father of one of the Newtown victims broke down in tears while testifying, and politicians got fiery as passions, and tensions, expressed themselves.
The Senate Judiciary Committee is set to consider four gun safety measures, including the assault weapons ban, on Thursday. The three other bills aim to stop illegal gun trafficking, enhance safety in schools, and enact universal background checks.
Democratic Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois became heated as he discussed the suggestion that it is common for people to use assault-style weapons for self-defense.
“If it is common in America to have a military assault weapon with a hundred magazine, if that is common for self-defense in America then God save this country,” Durbin said to applause from the room.
One of the most contentious moments of the hearing came when South Carolinian Republican Senator Lindsey Graham asked witnesses about prosecutions on those who failed background checks.
“If we’re going to require background checks, it looks to me like we ought to start enforcing the law that are on the books,” Graham said. “I’m a bit frustrated we say one thing about how important it is but in the real world we absolutely do nothing to enforce the laws on the books.”
Graham proceeded to ask Milwaukee Police Chief Edward Flynn how many false background checks he’s forwarded for prosecution.
“It doesn’t matter,” Flynn said as Graham proceeded to interrupt him. “It’s a paper thing…I want to stop 76,000 people from buying guns illegally. That’s what a background check does. If you think we’re going to do paperwork prosecutions you’re wrong!”
Republican Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa argued that limiting the types of firearms people can purchase is not the way to stop criminals from committing acts of violence.
“When something has been tried and found not to work, we should try different approaches rather than reenacting that which hasn’t done the job. There are vast numbers of gun-control laws in our country. Criminals do not obey them, but law-abiding citizens do. That tilts the scale in favor of criminals who use guns. If gun-control laws were effective in reducing crime, they would have produced lower crime rates by now.”
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