What to Expect from Today's Big Senate Hearing on Gun Violence
The U.S. Senate will hold its first formal hearing on gun control since the Sandy Hook school shooting, and there's the potential for some heated showdowns between the participants — Wayne LaPierre included.
The U.S. Senate will hold its first formal hearing on gun control since the Sandy Hook Elementary school shooting, and there's the potential for some heated showdowns between the participants. The Senate Judiciary Committee will hear testimony from five witnesses, including National Rifle Association Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre, who can expect some aggressive challenges from the committee's most liberal members, like Dianne Feinstein, who has already introduced her own gun control proposals.
To get the jump on the action, the NRA already released the full text of LaPierre's prepared testimony, which doesn't show any deviations from his previous stances. His response to the question of "What Should America Do About Gun Violence?"—the official title of the hearing—is that America should "throw an immediate blanket of security around our children." He also repeats criticisms of the enforcement of current laws and rejects the call for universal background checks, saying, "let's be honest — background checks will never be 'universal' — because criminals will never submit to them."
While his opening remarks are less critical of gun control advocates than his previous statements have been, he's likely to get pushed on his attacks of President Obama and the Justice Department, and maybe even that notorious ad that called the president a hypocrite for using armed Secret Service protection for his family (which his own chief lobbyist later called "ill advised"). Those watching the hearing (we'll be covering it with live updates right here) will have to wait and see if LaPierre's more combative side emerges, or if he will keep his cool.
But LaPierre won't be alone today. Here are the other people who will testify alongside him.
Mark Kelly: You all know Kelly as the husband of Gabby Giffords, the former U.S. Representative from California, who was shot in the head in 2011. The couple have since started a pro-gun control lobbying group and Giffords herself will be in attendance at the hearing today and will also give a statement.
Gayle Trotter: A mother of six and a lawyer for Independent Women's Forum, Trotter will side with NRA and against stricter laws. In fact, her opinions on the matter seem to have informed many of LaPierre's statements. In an op-ed she wrote for Fox News last month, Trotter advocated for more armed guards in public schools. The piece also included the same Secret Service attack—"In this haven of Northwest Washington, D.C., the pacifists depend on guns for protection"—and the (debunked) claim that there are "20,000 different gun laws on the books."
David Koppel: A law professor from Denver and an analyst at the libertarian-leaning Cato Institute, Koppel has written extensively on gun-control issues, vigorously defending the Second Amendement and backing LaPierre's assertion that the world needs more "good guys" with guns. Although, he has defended Colorado's gun control program, which he says have helped keep guns out of the bad guys' hands. You may also remember him from a famous moment on the Piers Morgan show last summer. As a guest on the night after the Aurora, Colorado, theater shooting, Koppel said, "This is the wrong night to be doing this." Morgan responded by saying, "I'll tell you the day to debate it would have been yesterday."
James Johnson: The chief of police in Baltimore County, Maryland, Johnson chairs the National Law Enforcement Partnership to Prevent Gun Violence and has argued aggressively for a ban on high-capacity weapons. His group also supports Vice President Biden's recommendations for a new assault weapons ban and universal background checks.
One thing you won't be seeing today: Any actual guns. District of Columbia gun laws are so strict that some Senators were thwarted in attempts to display unloaded guns as props at the hearing, even with police supervision. The hearing begins at 10:00 a.m. Eastern—without the guns. Follow our updates right here.