As the mayor of Pittsburgh signed a ban on assault rifles, the city was hit with separate lawsuits Tuesday challenging the new law as unconstitutional.Read more
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Reminding lawmakers that tell-tale signs of acute mental illness had gone unchecked when America suffered the deadliest school shooting in its history a year ago today, Senator Dianne Feinstein introduced bills Thursday to keep guns out of the hands of at-risk individuals.Read more
WASHINGTON (CN) – From survivors of the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, to hospital trauma surgeons, the House Judiciary Committee heard hours of testimony Wednesday on the need to ramp up gun control.
“I am here to tell you a simple truth – gun violence is such an epidemic that anyone, anywhere, at any time can be affected,” said Aalayah Eastmond, who survived the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. “Anyone, rich or poor, white or black, young or old, all Americans are at risk and this is a side of America that none of us can or should take pride in.”
Eastmond was the first witness the committee heard from this morning, recalling how she survived the Parkland massacre by hiding under a classmate’s body.
“I thought I was going to die,” Eastmond said. “As I lay there, I begged God to please make it fast.”
Legislation on guns is one of the priorities Democrats have put forward since taking the majority in the House in the 2018 midterm elections. Representative Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., said Wednesday’s hearing is the beginning of the process by which lawmakers will fine-tune proposals.
The witnesses and lawmakers called Wednesday for a wide range of bills, from bans on so-called assault weapons to legislation aimed at tightening up already existing background check procedures.
“We have both the opportunity and the responsibility to comprehensively address gun violence as the true public health crisis that it is,” said Joseph Sakran, a trauma surgeon at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore and a board member of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. “This is not a Democrat-versus-a-Republican issue. It’s a uniquely American issue, and it’s uniquely in each of your hands to help fix it.”
One bill that received particular attention from the witnesses was the Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2019, which has been endorsed by Robyn Thomas, the executive director of the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, and Houston Chief of Police Art Acevedo, both of whom testified Wednesday.
The bill would require anyone who buys a gun to undergo a background check, with limited exceptions, such as allowing close family members to give each other guns as gifts.
“I don’t think anyone on this panel would say that it wouldn’t prevent at least one death,” Acevedo said. “The question that I would have is if that one death was your child, your mother, your father, is a little inconvenience too much to save that life?”
Representative David Cicilline, D-R.I., called the bill the “beginning” of Congress’ work on the issue.
Republicans on the committee cautioned meanwhile against Congress passing a law that has the appearance of addressing the issue of gun violence but that does not actually solve any problems.
Representative Doug Collins, R-Ga., said the laws backed by Democrats would largely fall on legal gun owners while doing little to deter criminals.
“Today, I think the greatest cruelty in the world is to tell people you will help them in their situation with legislation and then try to pass off legislation that will do nothing to fix the problems that you claim to fix,” said Collins, the top Republican on the committee. “In legal terms, that’s called fraud.”
One witness, Old Dominion University student Savannah Lindquist, supported Collins’ position. A victim of sexual assault while a senior in college, Lindquist told the committee strict gun laws prevented her from protecting herself.
Lindquist said she dropped out of school, shut herself in her childhood bedroom and developed significant health problems after her assault.
“I obeyed the law as a responsible gun owner and it ended in me being raped,” Lindquist said.
The hearing room was packed with gun-violence survivors, including young people wearing shirts supporting March for Our Lives, an advocacy movement that emerged after the Parkland shooting. The family members of several people who died in that and other shootings were also in the audience during the hearing.
The audience on multiple occasions erupted into applause after testimony or comments from lawmakers, even as Nadler cautioned them against doing so in an effort to maintain decorum. The young people in the audience eventually resorted to snapping instead.
Representative Ted Deutch, who represents Parkland, praised the students at the school in his district and the victims of other mass shootings who have banded together in advocacy.
“They don’t owe us their service and advocacy, they don’t owe us anything,” Deutch said. “Congress failed them. We didn’t do our job.”
Reloading in a court battle over the dissemination of 3D-printable firearms, gun-rights activists brought a federal complaint Tuesday against New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal.Read more
The Supreme Court agreed Tuesday to hear a challenge of regulations governing how New Yorkers transport firearms from their homes in the city to shooting ranges.Read more
The Trump administration unveiled a rule change Tuesday that paves the way for an all-out ban by March 2019 of bump-stock devices: firearm attachments that make it possible to fire semiautomatic weapons fire as rapidly as any fully automatic firearm.Read more
In another blow to gun rights groups in New York state, a federal judge on Monday dismissed a lawsuit from two gun owners seeking to overturn the state’s tight restrictions on concealed-carry licenses.Read more
Upholding a law that limits gun owners from carrying magazines with more than 10 rounds of ammunition, the Third Circuit ruled 2-1 Wednesday that the national rise in mass shootings justifies this reasonable burden on the Second Amendment.Read more
A federal judge has tossed a class action by a gun rights advocacy group that sought to overturn Maryland’s ban on the sale and possession of bump stocks.Read more
A Ninth Circuit panel on Friday ruled California’s handgun regulations do not infringe gun buyers’ Second Amendment rights.Read more