"Thank you for inviting me here today. This is an important conversation for our children, for our communities, for Democrats and Republicans. Speaking is difficult, but I need to say something important. Violence is a big problem. Too many children are dying. Too many children. We must do something. It will be hard but the time is now. You must act. Be bold. Be courageous. Americans are counting on you. Thank you."
Gabrielle Giffords knows firsthand the pain of gun violence and the horror of a mass shooting. She was nearly assassinated just over two years ago, when she represented Southern Arizona in Congress and was conducting a "Congress at Your Corner" event just north of Tucson. While Giffords survived the shooting, eight other people passed away. Her husband, retired NASA astronaut Mark Kelly, explained to the committee the impact of the Tucson Massacre, the shock following the Newtown massacre, and why they & other gun owners support common sense gun safety reform.
Of course, the latter particularly frightens the NRA. After all, they claim to be the monolithic voice of America's gun owners. And they really don't like being called out on their nonsenical, idiotic "ideas".
"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. So, we're going to make all those law-abiding people go through the system and then we aren't going to prosecute any of the bad guys if they do catch one. None of it makes any sense in the real world. We have 80,000 police families in the NRA. We care about safety. We support what works."
After a brief interlude by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), the committee chairman, Durbin went after LaPierre.
"Mr. LaPierre, that's the point," Durbin fired back. "The criminals won't go to purchase the guns because there'll be a background check. We'll stop them from original purchase. You missed that point completely. It's basic."
Strangely enough, as the hearing continued and Mark Kelly was being questioned, news broke of another Arizona shooting. This time, it was at an office complex in Phoenix. So far, three people have been wounded.
Truth can so often be so much stranger than fiction.
Before today's hearing, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-It's Complicated) insisted he will bring gun safety legislation to the Senate floor. Yet so far, he still hasn't said whether he would vote for the Assault Weapons Ban favored by his good friends, Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-California) & President Obama. We don't even know for sure how he will vote on universal background checks & efforts to curb illegal gun trafficking.
Meanwhile, Nevada's other Senator, Dean Heller (R-46%), has hardly said a peep on gun safety since Newtown. Even with a mountain of evidence illustrating the need for gun safety reform along with overwhelming public support for it, Heller has kept his silence. Wait, isn't "Senator No Labels Postpartisan" supposed to ditch his "tea party" past in favor of a "moderate" new agenda? Well, now is a good time for both Heller and Reid to demonstrate that.
Hopefully, at least some of their staff are paying close attention to today's hearing. This should be a learning experience for the entire US Senate.