I should probably title this post “The First Senate Hearing on Gun Control” since, apparently, Sen. Dianne Feinstein is quite upset at having to tolerate pro-Second Amendment speakers. She has since asked to hold her own hearing on gun control where she controls the witness list.
They started late and brought out Gabby Giffords to read a statement, and now she’s leaving.
The witness list has been updated, and Nicholas Johnson has been replaced by Dave Kopel.
I’ll be updating this post as a live blog.
Sen. Patrick Leahy claims that the Second Amendment is secure, so clearly we just shouldn’t worry. He claims that no one can possibly take away the Second Amendment rights protected or guns in our homes. This is news to the 4 justices who voted in the minority in both Heller & McDonald, and news to a fellow Senator who has said many times that she wants to go door-to-door to get guns.
Leahy focuses on background check enhancements and “gun show loophole” in his opening remarks.
Sen. Chuck Grassley is ranting about the artistic value in video games. Then he goes into the gun issue and highlights Dept. of Justice finding that it wasn’t effective.
Grassley notes that the magazine size shouldn’t be targeted, either. He says that unlike deer, criminals might shoot back.
Grassley takes a shot at Obama’s claim on transparency and yet the White House still refuses to post the exact language of his Executive Orders on the White House website where citizens and other lawmakers can easily find them.
The witnesses have been sworn in. If the order of seating is any indication, Dave Kopel will be the first pro-rights voice after Mark Kelly.
Mark Kelly complains that not all of Arizona’s mental health records were submitted to NICS by the time Jared Loughner bought a gun – and admits that it wouldn’t have mattered since Jared was never in the system to begin with.
Every other word out of Mark Kelly’s mouth was “I swear, I don’t want to take your guns!”
Dave Kopel is up and looking good as always. Perhaps more importantly, his arguments are great as always, too. He’s giving the background on the last gun ban and the lack of effectiveness on reducing crime.
Kopel also notes that anti-gun activists saying that semi-auto rifles are only used for mass murder are libeling not only the private citizens who own them, but also the police who use them for defense.
Kopel tackles universal background checks by noting that the only way to effectively keep a check on it is with universal gun registration. He does credit Obama with encouraging people to access the NICS checks via an FFL.
Tackling the frequently cited in this hearing case of Newtown, Kopel specifically pushes for armed security – including considering armed teachers – at schools.
James Johnson, police chief from Baltimore, is speaking on private sales, pretty much nothing else.
I take that back, the last half of his speech is focusing on magazine sizes. I find it interesting that he’s cherry picking data – using different years, selecting only some state data (ironically, none are Maryland), and highlighting one or two incidents in other states.
Gayle Trotter is up now. She tells the story of Sarah McKinley, the woman in Oklahoma who defended herself and her baby last year. She argues that concealed carry and firearms in the home are an important tool for women’s defense.
Wayne LaPierre is now up, and the camera clicks for him are heard on video. That only happened with Gabby Giffords before him. Sitting behind him are Chis Cox and David Keene.
Wayne highlights the training that NRA provides, as well as Eddie Eagle, and the reduction of firearms accidents.
Like Trotter, LaPierre is also making a case that prosecutors aren’t enforcing gun laws on the book.
Leahy is now questioning Johnson, and he claims that there’s no federal law that restricts straw purchases. Johnson starts arguing against women having guns in their home to defend themselves from abusive relationships.
Leahy is very focused on claiming gun show loophole is to blame. He turns to Mark Kelly who reiterates that Loughner did pass a background check, but he complains that not every single interaction the guy ever had regarding possible mental health issues wasn’t in NICS.
Leahy shut down LaPierre when Wayne started to point out that there are statutes on the books that apply to straw purchasing. Leahy claims he isn’t trying to play games, but he’s getting pissed at Wayne when he reiterates that the administration isn’t prosecuting people who are trying to buy firearms illegally.
Grassley is starting with Kopel, and asking about the impact of the previous assault weapon ban.
Kopel is the first to specifically note that Adam Lanza killed his mother and then stole her guns. He uses the issue of civil commitment, and he argues that we could have stopped many of the cases of mass shootings and could reduce incarceration costs.
Wow, please stop Gayle Trotter. Please, stop. Just stop. This woman is claiming that women prefer semi-automatic rifles because they look scary and will look scarier to criminals. Someone doesn’t know guns.
Code Pink tries to sort of disrupt Trotter’s talk of women’s self-defense with a minor roar from the audience and gets a gaveling.
Dianne Feinstein is up. She’s talking about the trauma of being shot, and she immediately turns to the police chief who claims that Adam Lanza did not steal guns because the guns were legally owned and kept in the Lanza home.
Feinstein wants to know what we do about protecting malls and theaters since she doesn’t believe that we can have a more armed society.
Feinstein didn’t even bother asking any questions of pro-gun speakers, nor was she willing to engage with Mark Kelly. I’m wondering if it’s because he speaks too freely about owning guns and somewhat supporting guns for at least self-defense uses.
Jeff Sessions is up and emphasizing that the federal prosecutors won’t prosecute gun law violations. Johnson says that he is not at all concerned with the lack of prosecution. Johnson claims that states take care of this, but Sessions challenges him on why he’s pushing for a federal law then.
Chuck Schumer is up now. Schumer says that gun control must be part of a package discussion. He cites Heller as a great framework, but he ignores the common use argument. He now claims that 48% of gun sales are taking place at unregulated tents at gun shows. (It’s worth noting that Emily Miller is arguing back via Twitter.)
Schumer also only turns to Johnson to advocate for gun control, even though he argued with Kopel in his statements. He won’t ask Kopel questions at this point. He’ll just attack his testimony without a chance to rebut.
Johnson says that you can’t be trusted to sell your guns to other gun owners or neighbors you have known for decades. Johnson claims that he’s a hunter, so therefore he knows gun owners.
John Cornyn is up. He is focusing on mental illness issues. He asks Mark Kelly about the issue, and Kelly admits that there were no records on the issue. Then, Kelly makes up a new alternate history that if Loughner had been committed and been turned down at the gun shop, he would have clearly gone to a gun show to buy a gun without a background check. There’s no evidence that would be the case, but, hey, let’s not allow that to stop a political show.
LaPierre argues back against those who say that enforcement isn’t the issue by noting that when we refuse to enforce, we leave criminals and the mentally ill on the street to try and go get a gun through another means.
Sen. Dick Durbin claims that LaPierre misses the point because criminals will hear that there’s a background check, so they will just magically stop trying to get guns! Magic! No guns! Just like that.
Durbin says that the problem in Chicago is that the city has guns. It’s not that Chicago has criminals. That’s not a problem.
Durbin also makes a bizarre claim that FFLs in Mississippi aren’t conducting background checks, or that they aren’t as good as the same NICS check in another state. Then again, he also claimed that the inaugural parade took place in Chicago, so I think he’s kinda rambling.
Durbin admits that NRA members tell him that they think he doesn’t get the Second Amendment. Gee, shocker. He’s dismissive of them.
Durbin claims that LaPierre says that he’s advocating for shooting police officers, even though that wasn’t said at all. In fact, LaPierre noted that many people are most concerned for the time when government abandons them – after disasters, when police aren’t there to respond, etc.
Durbin argues with Kopel about magazine size. When Kopel express thanks for a failed magazine that jammed and saved lives, Durbin starts trying to argue over him. Kopel sticks with it and notes that Durbin isn’t trying to ban 100-round drums, he’s trying to ban normal magazine.
Lindsey Graham challenges the language of Mark Kelly who says that reasonable Americans just agree with him on gun control, and he asks if someone who disagrees with him is reasonable.
And, we have our first chart of the day. He notes the story from Georgia where a woman shot a person 5 times with her 6-shot revolver, and it wasn’t enough to kill the intruder.
Graham challenges Biden’s shotgun as the best defense shotgun argument from the Google+ chat. He rhetorically asks Kelly if he is considered unreasonable for considering his AR-15 as a best defense option for his home and his family.
Graham asks if Johnson’s budget has been cut in recent years, and Johnson admits that it has been. Graham then connects it to the issue of the right of good people to defend themselves.
Graham asks Kopel if larger capacity magazines are protected by the Constitution. Kopel notes that if we use the standard promoted by Schumer – Heller – then they are in common use and protected.
Sheldon Whitehouse is now up and claims that the Department of Justice has been prosecuting gun laws.
Whitehouse is asking Johnson to talk about the training for police officers to even use firearms. Johnson says that training is exhaustive and is heavy on psychological tests. He is appalled by the talk of teachers having firearms.
Johnson says that carrying a gun is a pain for him. He says that there’s no solution for carrying during the summer. He says that the cost of his holsters is prohibitive.
Whitehouse claims that Rhode Island police don’t receive special training on off-duty carry. I’m not sure where this is going.
Whitehouse says that the guns being proposed to be banned are “artifacts.” He also challenges Trotter on the kind of firearm used in the McKinley case. Trotter doesn’t know what kind of firearm she used.
Mike Lee from Utah is up. Lee is also citing Heller, and he’s asking Kopel about the capacity issue of commonly owned.
Kopel notes that Whitehouse’s argument that the McKinley shotgun would always be protected is actually not true because it can be made to take a few more extra rounds. Kopel also throws down his own form of law enforcement credentials – representing large law enforcement training organizations – in rebutting Johnson’s arguments against citizens carrying.
Lee opens the door for Kopel to talk about that SCOTUS said you can’t just look at misuse, you also have to look at lawful use.
Lee turns to Trotter, and asks if women will be at a disadvantage if their firearm options are limited. She says yes.
Lee challenges Johnson on his arguments about trying to prevent crime, and since handguns are the larger crime guns. Johnson falls back on a version of “that’s not what I was brought here to talk about.”
Klobuchar is up. She, like Whitehouse, is claiming that she enforced gun laws, so clearly, that’s not the issue.
Klobuchar is now claiming that 40% of gun sales are taking place at gun shows. She’s only turning to Johnson.
She now turns to LaPierre, and he highlights that the gun sales they are talking about are already illegal. He also offers to get Sheldon Whitehouse data on what isn’t being prosecuted. She interrupts and doesn’t want Wayne to challenge the claims by anti-gun Senators who won’t ask questions of pro-gun speakers.
Mark Kelly is again promoting Wal-Mart as the place to buy guns. It makes me wonder if they have already cut a deal with Kelly, Bloomberg, & Obama. It just seems like they go out of their way to name drop the company a little too often.
Damnit. Sen. Cruz is up, and I really want to take a break for lunch.
Okay, well, I could take a bit to put some lunch on because of his speech. He’s not questioning anyone so far, just talking about how he considers the problem to be not punishing criminals.
Cruz is addressing the issue of the machine guns being confused for so-called assault weapons.
Oh, we have a “slide” now. It’s really a chart. Rather than it being an actual visual tool like Lindsey Graham’s chart, these charts are just quotes.
Nevermind, now we have a photograph. He’s asking LaPierre about the function of this firearm versus another.
Cruz brought in a pistol grip. He asked if attaching the piece of plastic would change the function of the firearm. I will give credit for an effective use of props in the case. I heard cameras clicking in the background when he held up the pistol grip.
Wayne is given a chance to highlight the fact that so many of the banned guns are very much like the exempted guns.
Leahy says that there will not be a second round of questioning, which I am thankful for today.
Al Franken is now up. It’s interesting since he sent out a fundraising email today about why anyone actually needs to play laser tag. Yeah, it was random, and I still don’t know why I’m on his list. I try unsubscribing, but it doesn’t work.
It seems that Franken is claiming to hear gun shots regularly on otherwise quiet evenings at home. Somehow, I doubt that.
Franken goes on a list of all the gun control he is supporting.
Franken now gets Johnson to advocate for using schools to treat mental health issues. It’s interesting that when challenged by pro-gun Senators on specific gun violence issues – the topic of today’s hearing – he claims that he wasn’t brought there to discuss it. Yet, when asked by anti-gun Senators to elaborate about education and mental health diagnosis issues, he’s totally on board with it.
Johnson says that cosmetic features aren’t actually cosmetic. They are meant to make guns “ruggedized” to make it more useful in defense against criminals. And people shouldn’t be able to defend themselves the same way.
Johnson says that spray firing rifles from the hip can be done with optics that cost lots of money, so all of the features should be banned for civilians.
Orrin Hatch is now up, and he asks LaPierre about ideas for reducing gun violence. LaPierre goes for a little class warfare by emphasizing that elites choose to be protected by the guns they want to ban for private citizens who can’t afford expensive bodyguards.
Hatch is now asking Kopel about his WSJ article from December and the connection between mass shootings & gun regulations.
Chris Coons is now up. He is also arguing against the number of prosecutions that hurts the administration. He thanks Joe Biden.
Mark Kelly says that he believes in the Second Amendment because he flew planes. He also uses his knowledge of flying to give a reasoned argument on Constitutional grounds of the gun/magazine bans. (That’s sarcasm. He says that he personally believes the gun control proposals are Constitutional, and his defense is his experience flying over the Middle East.)
Johnson, who previously told the Senate Committee that non-enforcement of laws wasn’t a problem, now tells Coons that enforcement is “absolutely essential” to keeping people safe.
Jeff Flake is now up. DEAR LORD, I love him. He said he may not take his entire time. I would love to hug him for that.
Mark Kelly admits that he doesn’t know why states aren’t submitting mental health data to NICS.
Richard Blumenthal is now up. He claims that there’s bipartisan common ground on gun control.
Blumenthal asks LaPierre to endorse the “Sandy Hook Promise” that asks for support to non-specific “common sense” policies to oppose violence. It’s rather obnoxious, even for political grandstanding.
LaPierre challenges the Obama administration to increasing the federal prosecutions of gun laws under questioning, and Blumenthal promptly moves on.
Kelly cites the shooting in Phoenix that just happened as part of his call to support background checks, even though he then had to add that he doesn’t actually know any details about the shooting or how the person got the gun.
Ted Cruz is allowed one more question. He questions Johnson on his claims that more gun control reduces crime. He points out that the crime rates of urban areas in Texas are a fraction of Johnson’s Baltimore and the crime rate of DC under their gun ban.
Johnson rambles, saying that the reason why the Texas numbers are low is because of hospitals. Johnson says that the anti-gun states can easily blame their crime on other states that allow gun ownership.
I’ve lost the feed, and we’re apparently to the last Senator. Hang on…
Mazie Hirono from Hawaii is up. She says she respects hunters of Hawaii.
She says that she appreciates Kelly giving them cover with his statement that no solution will actually solve crime and mass shootings. That means they can pass gun control and not be held accountable when it doesn’t do what they claim it will do.
Hirono asks Kelly to speak about mental health issues, but he talks about gun shows instead. He does make reference to compelling states to share mental health data with NICS, but he isn’t actually willing to answer the issue of the previous attempts to make states share data.
Hirono asks Kelly if he will endorse spending more money to hire psychologists for every school. He endorses the idea, and says that his new Brady Campaign competitor will push for it.
Hirono turns to Johnson to talk about the issues of bullying in schools. She says that a school in Hawaii had to close due to fights. He says that bullying was a factor in both school shootings in his jurisdiction, and he endorses more money for cops.
Leahy says that the Second Amendment doesn’t include so-called “weapons of war.”
Leahy now says that he wants a bill mark up next month with a floor vote next month. He also says there will be other hearings with other voices.
And, at nearly 4 hours long, it’s over.
31 Responses to “The Senate Hearing on Gun Control”
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