The hearing is over now, but check out our live blog for all the highlights, including some of the best moments on video. (Plus: Wayne LaPierre's paranoid public record, the shooting that happened in the middle of the hearing, the NRA's women defense, LaPierre and Dianne Feinstein's near-cute exchange, LaPierre's full testimony, and Gabby Giffords's emotional opening statement.)
Original Post: The Senate Judiciary Committee is holding a hearing on gun violence in America, and advocates from both sides—and their rivals on the committee—will get to plead their case. You can read a fuller preview of the upcoming testimony here, but we will have live updates from the hearings as they happen. The hearing begins at 10:00 a.m. and will be be broadcast live on C-SPAN. We'll also have an embedded stream below, once it's underway. All times given are Eastern.
1:52 p.m.: That's the end of the this hearing, but Leahy says there will more on the issue, before signing off. Says he hopes to markup legislation next month that they can take to the Senate. That's all, folks.
1:47 p.m.: A dirty secret of Senate hearings. As soon as a Senator asks their questions, they and their staff take off
1:44 p.m.: Last questioner!
1:42 p.m.: Ted Cruz gets another question about gun deaths. Johnson stands by his belief that gun checks work, and also points out that one reason deaths are down is better treatment by first responders and ER docs.
1:39 p.m.: Mark Kelly becomes the first person at the hearing to mention the shooting in Phoenix that happened today.
1:37 p.m.: LaPierre: "There isn't a law biding gun owner who wasn't torn up" by Sandy Hook. The problem he says, is that "I've been on the hill for 20 years" and everyone says they will do something about enforcement/prosecution and no one ever does it.
1:31 p.m.: Only two more questioners: Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut and Mazie Hirono of Hawaii, both Democrats.
1:28 p.m.: Jeff Flake of Arizona asks about the difficulty of getting health issues entered into the background check system. Johnson says there is confusion and fear among health care organizations about what their responsibilities are.
1:22 p.m.: LaPierre repeats his "universal background checks are a 'universal nightmare'" line.
1:18 p.m.: Christopher Coons of Delaware also pushes back on the "lack of prosecutions" theme, saying that the number of gun defendants has remained steady.
1:16 p.m.: While this hearing is still in progress, there are reports out of Phoenix of another mass shooting at an office.
1:12 p.m.: Prompted by Orrin Hatch, Trotter reiterates that non-gun owners also benefit from living in areas where guns are not restricted, because criminals cannot be sure who is carrying and who isn't?
1:07 p.m.: Johnson says some weapons are meant only for the battle field or public safety officials.
1:02 p.m.: Al Franken says it's important not to stigmatize people with mental health, as most are not violent.
12:58 p.m.: Cruz doesn't ask questions of anyone other than LaPierre, who he merely called on to back up his points.
12:55 p.m.: Cruz doesn't have a gun, but holds up a small pistal grip. Says if this "little piece of plastic" is attached to a legal rifle, it suddenly becomes an assault weapon and would be banned.
12:52 p.m: Cruz says the original assault weapons ban was a failure, pulling out a quote to that effect from all the way back in 1994.
12:49 p.m.: Ted Cruz of Texas, begins his first hearing in the Senate: "When a tragedy occurs, often this body rushes to act."
12:46 p.m.: Klobuchar asks LaPierre about closing gunshow loophole. LaPierre objects, saying the background check is already overwhelmed. He calls the plans an "unworkable, universal, federal, nightmare, bureaucracy."
12:37 p.m.: Amy Klobuchar (D-Minnesota) gets a little choked up talking a Newtown Girl Scout troop that lost five of its 10 members in the Sandy Hook shooting.
12:36 p.m.: Kopel gets into a legalese discussion with Mike Lee of Utah. Kopel is making the argument that just because a criminal has misused a common feature of weapon, that doesn't mean law-abiding citizens shouldn't be allowed to have them.
12:28 p.m.: Whitehouse challenges Trotter on weather women can already get guns that are adequate to defend herself. Trotter becomes upset, saying no one can decide what's adequate for a woman who might be in danger.
12:26 p.m.: Johnson on arming teachers: "Carrying a weapon is an awesome responsiblity. ... I'm paying $200 just for the holster to keep it on my side."
12:22 p.m.: Whitehouse seconds Durbin's comment about criminals not submitting to background checks: "That's the point."
12:19 p.m.: Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island disputes the figures cited earlier about how many federal prosecutions there actually are. "To pretend the number is only in double digits or zero is flagrantly wrong."
12:16 p.m.: Graham says he will oppose the legislation.
12:15 p.m.: Graham: "I would be better off ... if there was a law and order breakdown in my neighborhood ... to have an AR-15 ... I don't think that's unreasonable."
12:14 p.m.: Graham tells the story of a woman who shoots an intruder five times with a six-bullet revolver. Asks: "Am I unreasonable" if I want my family to have a 15-round magazine in case there is more than one attacker?
12:11 p.m.: Senator Lindsey Graham: "Am I a reasonable American if I oppose this bill?"
12:08 p.m.: Durbin is easily the most combative Senator so far. His questioning of both Kopel and LaPierre nearly reached yelling on both sides.
Durbin'd twitter.com/michaelhayes/s…— Mike Hayes (@michaelhayes) January 30, 2013
12:06 p.m.: Durbin now arguing with Kopel about large magazine clips. Kopel objects that Durbin wants to ban magazines used by law-abiding law enforcement officers.
12:02 p.m.: Durbin complains that most guns used by criminals in Chicago are purchased in states where there the laws are more lax.
12:00 p.m.: When Dick Durbin get his turn he unloads on LaPierre immediately, saying: "You don't get it." If we have background checks the criminals won't go buy guns. Applause breaks out after, and the Leahy has to call the crowd to order.
11:57 a.m.: LaPierre: "We've got to get in the real world" and focus on what works. Says it's not fair to make law-abiding citizens go through the system, and then not prosecute the criminals.
11:56 a.m.: Cornyn asks LaPierre about the lack of prosecutions. "Gangs are trafficking 13-year-old girls. We've got to interdict these people."
11:50 a.m.: Republican John Cornyn follow Schumer. Says perhaps our background check system "needs to be updated," but joins the complaints that there aren't enough prosecutions. Schumer had just got done suggesting that many Republicans will support more background checks.
11:48 a.m.: Johnson says the checks are quick and easy. "I can't write a ticket" in the time it takes to run a background check.
11:46 a.m.: Schumer uses almost all of his time for a speech, then finally asks Johnson is background checks work. "Wouldn't we rather stop them from getting a gun?" Johnson: Every member of our organization supports background checks.
11:43 a.m.: Schumer: "Not including guns when discussing mass killings is like not including cigarettes when discussing lung cancer."
11:36 a.m.: Sessions prosecutors can "intimidate" criminals, by prosecuting the "bread and butter" gun cases, like illegal possession. LaPierre backs him up, saying federal laws aren't being enforced.
11:31 a.m.: Republican Jeff Sessions (a former prosecutor in Alabama) is next. He talks mostly about the decline in prosecutions for gun crimes. Q to Johnson: Does that concern you? A: No, because Sessions isn't including local prosecutions. Sessions: "Are we trying to pass a federal law or not?"
11:27 a.m.: Feinstein asks Johnson if he thinks her gun bill will work. He says it will. Feinstein doesn't ask LaPierre or anyone else any questions. Too bad.
11:25 a.m.: Her first question is actually for Chief Johnson, asking him about the weapon used by Adam Lanza at Newtown. Johnson says the gun wasn't stolen, it was left unsecured in the home. To Feinstein: "I applaud you for including a safety and security measure" in your bill.
11:24 a.m.: Diane Feinstein jokes with LaPierre about their long time "friendship" (our quotes not hers) before she begins her questions.
11:23 a.m.: Trotter: "The peace of mind that woman has when she faces three, four, five violent attackers in her home, with her children screaming in teh background, know that she has a big scary weapon to protect her...."
11:21 a.m.: Kopel: The long term solution is not background check, it's how do we get these people (mentally ill people) off the streets in the first place.
11:20 a.m.: Kopel: About 1/6 of people in state prison for homicide are mentally ill.
11:19 a.m.: Chief Johnson: "We've lost dozens of police officers in America due to assault weapons."
11:17 a.m.: Kopel (now being questioned by Grassley) says the core purpose of the Second Amendment is "lawful self defense." Argues that options that make certain guns illegally (like the type of grip) are often designed to make them safer.
11:12 a.m.: Leahy has the first question for LaPierre: "Do you still support background checks at gun shows?" LaPierre says they already exist for dealers, and Leahy says that's not the question. "I'm not trying to play games here." LaPierre says there should be, because the law as it exists is no effective. "The National Check System is a failure, because we don't prosecute the people we catch." Leahy responds: "With all due respect … that wasn't the questioned I asked."
11:07 a.m.: Q: Would universal background checks keep guns out of hands of domestic abusers? (As a counter to Trotter's arguments about protecting women though guns.) Johnson says yes.
11:04 a.m.: Statements are over. Leahy begins the questioning by asking Chief Johnson about "straw purchases," where someone else buys a gun for someone who can't pass a background check. Leahy asks if there should be a federal law to punish straw purchasers. Johnson agrees, of course.
10:59 a.m.: You can read LaPierre's full opening statement here.
10:57 a.m.: Trotter: "Every woman deserves a fighting chance." LaPierre is up last.
10:56 a.m.: Trotter: "Concealed carry laws reverse the balance of power." They also indirectly benefit those who aren't carrying.
10:54 a.m.: The next witness is Gayle Trotter, another pro-gun advocate, who argues that guns are a "great equalizer for women."
10:53 a.m.: Johnson: "I've seen an explosion of firepower since the assault weapons ban expired."
10:50 a.m.: Johnson repeats the claim that 40 percent of gun sales are not subject to background checks, a claim frequently made by President Obama, but one that has been disputed elsewhere.
10:49 a.m.: Johnson: "We are long overdue on strengthening our nation's gun laws."
10:46 a.m.: Chief James Johnson is up next. He's the head of Baltimore County's police department.
Johnson Kopel winds up by arguing for not only armed guards in schools, but armed teachers.
JohnsonKopel says that gun control laws are permissible, but is critical of many of the laws that have been passed. He claims Great Britain is an example of gun control gone wrong, as they have higher rates of violent crime than the United States.
Nicholas Johnson, a professor at Fordham University is testifying now. (He was not on the original witness list.) The witness was misidentified: It is David Kopel.
10:39 a.m.: Gabby Giffords blatantly violates (we assume) the use of cellphones in the Senate hearing chamber. Nice photo though.
10:37 a.m.: Kelly reminds everyone that he and his wife both own guns. "Gabby would never relinquish her gun, and I would never relinquish mine."
10:35 a.m.: Kelly says at the shooting of wife, the gunman had a magazine that hold 33 bullets, and "there were 33 wounds."
10:34 a.m.: Kelly: "As you know our family has been affected by gun violence ... Gabby's gift of speech is a distant memory. She is partially blind."
10:32 a.m.: Grassely finishes and Leahy swears in the witnesses. Mark Kelly will speak first.
10:31 a.m.: Here's video of Gabrielle Giffords' emotional speech, via Business Insider
10:29 a.m.: Grassley: "President Obama's remarks turned the Constitution on its head." Then quotes his statement that who were killed by guns had their rights taken away.
10:27 a.m.: Grassley: All of President Obama's executive actions on guns "could have been done four years ago. Why now?"
10:26 a.m.: Grassley says there are two many violent games.
10:24 a.m.: Almost every cutaway shot on C-SPAN while the Senators are talking is, to NRA President David Keene, who is sitting in the gallery.
10:22 a.m.: Leahy says he hopes for a consensus to emerge in the Senate, then turns it over to the Ranking Member, Chuck Grassley.
10:19 a.m.: Leahy says the Second Amendment is secure, and (importantly) it protects an individual right to own weapons.
10:17 a.m.: Leahy on improving the background check system: "It's just common sense."
10:16 a.m.: Chairman Leahy is now delivering his opening statement, before the witnesses are introduced.
10:15 a.m.: Giffords only spoke for about a minute, but it was an incredibly powerful moment, as even her speech is still damaged by her own brush with gun violence.
10:13 a.m.: Giffords delivers the opening statement, even though her speech is still affected by the damage from her shooting. "Speaking is difficult, but I need to say something important. There is too much violence ... America is counting on you."
10:09 a.m.: Gabby Giffords and her husband, Mark Kelly, are chatting with the Seantors as they enter and take their seats.
10:00 a.m.: Live stream via CBS News/Ustream
9:45 a.m.: If the hearing follows form, it will begin with statements from the Democratic Chairman, Patrick Leahy, and the Ranking Member, Chuck Grassley. Then all five (or six, if Gabrielle Giffords speaks as well) witnesses will delivered prepared statements, followed by questions from the members, rotating through party and seniority. Here's the list of current members.
In particular, we would watch for Diane Feinstein's questioning of the NRA's Wayne LaPierre, as well as the line taken by Orrin Hatch and Lindsey Graham, who are two of the more experienced and outspoken members on the Republican side.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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