NRA Executive Vice President and CEO, Wayne LaPierre stated at the Senate Judiciary hearing that he believes the answer to gun violence in America is not by proposing more gun laws, but by teaching safe and responsible gun ownership and prosecuting non-law abiding citizens.
Today’s congressional hearing is the first on gun control following President Obama’s proposal of new laws including the reinstatement of the assault weapons ban, universal background checks on gun buyers and a ban on high-capacity magazine ammunition.
Former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., began the hearing with brief remarks. Giffords survived a shot to the head two years ago during an assassination attempt that killed six people. She is the founder of American for Responsible Solutions, which seeks “to encourage officials to stand up for solutions to prevent gun violence and protect responsible gun ownership.”
“Too many children are dying. Too many children,” Giffords said.
“It will be hard. But the time is now. You must act. Be bold. Be courageous. Americans are counting on you.”
The hearing comes one month after a gunman used an AR-15 semi-automatic “assault” rifle and multiple high-ammunition caps to kill twenty children and 6 adults at a Newtown, Connecticut elementary school. Since the tragic shooting, calls for stricter gun laws have increased.
Following Giffords remarks Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-VT., gave his statement in front of the committee to tell leaders to step up to take additional measures to ensure the safety of the American people.
“Lives are at risk when responsible people fail to stand up for laws that will keep guns out of the hands of those who will use them to commit mass murder. I ask that we focus our discussion on additional statutory measures to better protect our children and all Americans,” Leahy said.
Disagreements continued during the hearing revolving availability of so-called assault weapons. Some democratic senators seek to ban them and also restrict large-size magazines; Republicans senators and their witnesses argue a ban would endanger potential victims of crime and infringe on the rights of law-abiding Americans.
“Law-abiding gun owners will not accept blame for the acts of violent or deranged criminals. Nor do we believe the government should dictate what we can lawfully own and use to protect our families,” LaPierre said.
During the hearing LaPierre discussed how proposing additional gun laws while failing to enforce the gun laws we already have will not solve the problem of reducing crime.
The failure La Pierre referred to was not prosecuting those who misuse firearms.
“Violent felons, gang members and the mentally ill who possess firearms are not being prosecuted. And that is unacceptable,” LaPierre said.
“But there are things that can be done and we ask you to join with us. The NRA is made up of millions of Americans who support what works … the immediate protection for all – not just some – of our school children; swift, certain prosecution of criminals with guns; and fixing our broken mental health system.”