Pro-gun groups take hard line ahead of Senate hearing

NRA members and gun control advocates will testify before the Senate on Wednesday

Topics: NRA, Wayne LaPierre, Gabrielle Giffords, Gun Control, Newtown school shooting, Senate Judiciary Committee,

In Wednesday’s hearings on gun violence, the Senate Judiciary Committee will hear from members of pro-gun groups who will continue to oppose any gun control measures, despite the renewed push for tougher gun laws in the wake of the Newtown school shootings.

On Tuesday, the NRA released a transcript of Executive Vice President LaPierre’s planned opening remarks, which include opposition to universal background checks (”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”), a defense of gun owners (“Law-abiding gun owners will not accept blame for the acts of violent or deranged criminals”) and a renewed call for armed security guards in schools (“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”).

Gayle Trotter, an Attorney and Senior Fellow at the Independent Women’s Forum, a conservative group, plans to take on ”liberal elitists with armed guards,” and argue that it’s a matter of self-defense for women: “[U]sing a firearm with a magazine holding more than 10 rounds of ammunition, a woman would have a fighting chance even against multiple attackers.”

Trotter’s group has previously taken the position that by enacting restrictions on firearms, President Obama will “limit a women’s capability to fight back against attackers and protect herself and her family.”

The Senate will also hear from Captain Mark Kelly, the husband of former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. Giffords herself will give the opening testimony on Wednesday, according to her aide. Other witnesses include Baltimore Police Chief James Johnson, head of the National Law Enforcement Partnership to Prevent Gun Violence, and David Kopel, a professor of Constitutional Law at Denver University.

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It’s unclear what the Senate hearings will actually accomplish, since any gun control legislation proposed by the Committee will have to be debated and voted on by the full Senate. From the AP:

The chairman of the panel, Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., said little Tuesday about the direction his committee’s legislation might take. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., indicated that whatever the committee produced wouldn’t necessarily be the final product, saying the package would be debated by the full Senate and senators would be allowed to propose “whatever amendments they want that deal with this issue.”

But one proposal that’s gained some traction among committee members is universal background checks. According to The Hill, Leahy “has indicated he’s particularly interested in examining efforts to improve the background check system for gun sales, improve mental health services and fight gun trafficking.”

And Reuters reports that Republicans like Sen. Jeff Flake, of Arizona, have expressed support for strengthening the system, with Flake saying that “we all recognize the need for more effective background checks.” Though he added that ”people say responsible gun owners should be able to own any type of weapon or (ammunition) clip within reason.”

Jillian Rayfield is an Assistant News Editor for Salon, focusing on politics. Follow her on Twitter at @jillrayfield or email her at jrayfield@salon.com.

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