LaPierre under fire

Dems allege NRA "missing the point" on background checks as gun hearings grow heated VIDEO

Topics: Video, Wayne LaPierre, Dick Durbin, Sheldon Whitehouse, Patrick Leahy, Gun Control, Universal background checks, Editor's Picks,

LaPierre under fire (Credit: AP/Ron Edmonds)

Predictably, one of the biggest points of contention in Wednesday’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on gun violence was whether to implement universal background checks. The NRA’s Wayne LaPierre opposes them because, as he put it, “background checks will never be universal because criminals will never submit to them.” But Democrats argued that that is exactly the point: Mandating background checks will dissuade criminals from going to buy guns in the first place.

“My problem with background checks is you are never going to get criminals to go through universal background checks. And all the law-abiding people, you’ll create an enormous federal bureaucracy, unfunded, hitting all the little people in the country, will have to go through it, pay the fees, pay the taxes,” LaPierre said. “We don’t even prosecute anybody right now that goes through the system we have.”

Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., fired back (to some applause from the room): ”Mr. LaPierre, that’s the point. The criminals won’t go to purchase the guns because there’ll be a background check. We’ll stop them from the original purchase. You missed that point completely. And I think it’s basic.”

Watch:

In another exchange, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., reiterated this point, saying that LaPierre is right, “criminals won’t subject themselves to a background check, and my response is: That’s exactly the point.”

“I think to the extent that we can expand the background check, the very fact that criminals won’t subject themselves to a background check” will prevent them from getting guns, Whitehouse said.

You Might Also Like

Mark Kelly, Gabrielle Giffords’ husband, also directly addressed LaPierre’s argument, pointing out that Jared Loughner, who shot Giffords in Tucson in January 2011, was a mentally ill drug user who was rejected from the Army. “But because of these gaps in the mental health system,” there was no record on Loughner. If there had been, Kelly said, “he would have failed that background check. He would have likely gone to a gun show, or a private seller, and avoided that background check. But if we close that gun show loophole, if we require private sellers to complete a background check, and we get those 121,000 records and others into the systems, we will prevent gun crime. That is an absolute truth.”

Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., who chairs the committee, tried to zero in on whether LaPierre and the NRA support mandatory background checks at gun shows, “as you did in 1999.”

LaPierre would not give a straight answer, saying that the NRA supported background checks on gun dealers, which is already the law. “That’s not my question, Mr. LaPierre. I’m not trying to play games here,” Leahy shot back.

“We do not, because the fact is the law right now is a failure, the way it’s working,” LaPierre said.

“With all due respect, that was not the question I asked, nor did you answer it,” Leahy replied.

Watch:

Another contentious part of the hearing was based on testimony from Gayle Trotter, an attorney and senior fellow at the Independent Women’s Forum, who emphasized that allowing assault weapons helps protect women from armed intruders. Trotter said that “guns are the great equalizer for women,” and “in a violent confrontation, guns reverse the balance of power.” She also noted that ”young women are speaking out as to why AR-15 weapons are the weapons of choice” and that we must ”defend our Second Amendment right to choose to defend ourselves.”

Trotter also referenced the story of a woman who used a 12-gauge shotgun to defend her family from intruders, noting that gun laws could have prevented the woman from defending herself.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., agreed.  ”There can be a situation where a mother runs out of bullets because of what we do here,” he said, arguing that ”15 rounds in the hands of a mother trying to protect her children may not be enough.”

Whitehouse, on the other hand, pointed out that the proposed legislation to ban assault weapons would not have stopped the woman in Trotter’s anecdote from using the gun that she did. “She would clearly have an adequate ability to protect her family without the need for a 100-round piece,” Whitehouse said.

Trotter took extreme issue with this: ”How can you say that? You are a large man. You are — tall. You are not a young mother. Who has a young child with her.”

Meanwhile, David Kopel, a constitutional law professor at Denver University, argued that, in fact, banning magazines larger than 10 rounds is “plainly unconstitutional” because they are “commonly used by law-abiding citizens for legitimate purposes.”

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.

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 11
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails
    Martyna Blaszczyk/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 1

    Pond de l'Archeveche - hundreds thousands of padlocks locked to a bridge by random couples, as a symbol of their eternal love. After another iconic Pont des Arts bridge was cleared of the padlocks in 2010 (as a safety measure), people started to place their love symbols on this one. Today both of the bridges are full of love locks again.

    Anders Andersson/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 2

    A bird's view of tulip fields near Voorhout in the Netherlands, photographed with a drone in April 2015.

    Aashit Desai/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 3

    Angalamman Festival is celebrated every year in a small town called Kaveripattinam in Tamil Nadu. Devotees, numbering in tens of thousands, converge in this town the day after Maha Shivratri to worship the deity Angalamman, meaning 'The Guardian God'. During the festival some of the worshippers paint their faces that personifies Goddess Kali. Other indulge in the ritual of piercing iron rods throughout their cheeks.

    Allan Gichigi/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 4

    Kit Mikai is a natural rock formation about 40m high found in Western Kenya. She goes up the rocks regularly to meditate. Kit Mikai, Kenya

    Chris Ludlow/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 5

    On a weekend trip to buffalo from Toronto we made a pit stop at Niagara Falls on the Canadian side. I took this shot with my nexus 5 smartphone. I was randomly shooting the falls themselves from different viewpoints when I happened to get a pretty lucky and interesting shot of this lone seagull on patrol over the falls. I didn't even realize I had captured it in the shot until I went back through the photos a few days later

    Jassen T./National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 6

    Incredibly beautiful and extremely remote. Koehn Lake, Mojave Desert, California. Aerial Image.

    Howard Singleton/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 7

    Lucky timing! The oxpecker was originally sitting on hippo's head. I could see the hippo was going into a huge yawn (threat display?) and the oxpecker had to vacate it's perch. When I snapped the pic, the oxpecker appeared on the verge of being inhaled and was perfectly positioned between the massive gaping jaws of the hippo. The oxpecker also appears to be screeching in terror and back-pedaling to avoid being a snack!

    Abrar Mohsin/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 8

    The Yetis of Nepal - The Aghoris as they are called are marked by colorful body paint and clothes

    Madeline Crowley/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 9

    Taken from a zodiac raft on a painfully cold, rainy day

    Ian Bird/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 10

    This wave is situated right near the CBD of Sydney. Some describe it as the most dangerous wave in Australia, due to it breaking on barnacle covered rocks only a few feet deep and only ten metres from the cliff face. If you fall off you could find yourself in a life and death situation. This photo was taken 300 feet directly above the wave from a helicopter, just as the surfer is pulling into the lip of the barrel.

  • Recent Slide Shows

Comments

0 Comments

Comment Preview

Your name will appear as username ( settings | log out )

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href=""> <b> <em> <strong> <i> <blockquote>