Here are portions of the opening statements from Mark Kelly, husband of Gabrielle Giffords, and Wayne LaPierre, executive vice president of the National Rifle Association at the Senate Judiciary hearing this morning titled “What Should America Do About Gun Violence?”
.. rights demand responsibility. And this right does not extend to terrorists. It does not extend to criminals. It does not extend to the mentally ill.
When dangerous people get guns, we are all vulnerable – at the local movie theater, worshipping at church, conducting our everyday business, exercising our civic responsibilities as Americans, and – time after time after time – at school, on our campuses, in our children’s classrooms.
When dangerous people get dangerous guns, we are all the more vulnerable. Dangerous people with weapons specifically designed to inflict maximum lethality upon others have turned every corner of our society into places of carnage and gross human loss.
… Our rights are paramount. But our responsibilities are serious. And as a nation we are not taking responsibility for the gun rights our founders conferred upon us.
And, finally, let’s have a careful and civil conversation about the lethality of the firearms we permit to be legally bought and sold. You can’t just walk into a store and buy a machine gun, but you can easily buy a semi-automatic high velocity assault rifle and/or high capacity ammunition magazines. We should come together and decide where to draw that line in such a way that it protects our rights and communities alike.
It’s time to throw an immediate blanket of security around our children. About a third of our schools have armed security already – because it works.2 And that number is growing. Right now, state officials, local authorities and school districts in all 50 states are considering their own plans to protect children in their schools.
… Semi-automatic firearms have been around for over 100 years. They are among the most popular guns made for hunting, target shooting and self-defense. Despite this fact, Congress banned the manufacture and sale of hundreds of semi-automatic firearms and magazines from 1994 to 2004. Independent studies, including a study from the Clinton Justice Department, proved that ban had no impact on lowering crime.
And when it comes to the issue of background checks, let’s be honest – background checks will never be “universal” – because criminals will never submit to them.