The Senate Judiciary Committee’s hearing on Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s hearing on the Assault Weapons Ban of 2013 opened solemnly, before a packed hearing room, many of the observers gun-violence victims and law-enforcement personnel from gun-tragedy locations.
Feinstein, flanked by a photo of the 26 Newtown victims, opened with a pointed reference to Newtown and the growing number of mass-casualty events over the past decade.
While Feinstein’s tone was dispassionate, her words about the urgent need for an assault weapons ban were certainly emphatic: “It is clear we need a national solution,” she said. She showed a SlideFire Solutions Inc. promotional video of their product, which turns a semiautomatic rifle into a near-machine gun. And she stressed that a ban on high-capacity magazines was a “crucial” part of the bill.
Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, the ranking minority member of the committee, offered his condolences to the families of Newtown victims, but said “I happen to have a different view” about the assault weapons bill. He advocated improving the NICS database of non qualified shooters and mental-health services nationwide, but said he thought the AWB would be ineffective.
The first panel of witnesses, United States Attorney John Walsh of Colorado and Edward Flynn, Milwaukee police chief, spoke forcefully in support of limiting the access to assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.
Walsh said he hoped he would “never have another predawn phone call” like the one he got about the Aurora tragedy, and he said that while the Justice Department has not taken any position on the ban, it “strongly supports the goals” and “is confident that both the assault-weapons ban and the ban on high-capacity magazines” can be implemented constitutionally.
Flynn said America’s cities are experiencing “slow-motion mass murder every single year.”
“It’s time for Congress to pick a side,” Flynn said. “This time, I hope it’s the side of law enforcement.”
“A slow-motion mass murder every single year.