But Wayne LaPierre, CEO and executive vice president of the National Rifle Association, said that universal background checks are useless because criminals simply circumvent them, creating an “unworkable, universal federal bureaucracy.”
“Mr. LaPierre, that’s the point,” Sen. Richard J. Durbin, the Senate’s No. 2 Democrat, shot back at one point. “The criminals won’t go to purchase the guns, because there will be a background check. We’ll stop them from the original purchase. You missed that point completely.”
Sen. Lindsey Graham, South Carolina Republican, attempted to illustrate the disconnect between the two sides by pointing out the reaction of some audience members when Ms. Trotter said many women feel safer and more confident in their ability to fend off potential attackers when they have guns.
“The people who were giggling were saying to you, ‘That is crazy. Nobody I know thinks that way,’” he said. “Which reminds me of the Harvard professor who said, ‘I cannot believe [George] McGovern lost. Everyone I know voted for him.’ And I bet there are people on our side that can’t believe [President] Obama won, because everyone they know voted against him. The point is that we have different perspectives on this.”
Indeed, prosecuting violations of current crimes — not necessarily enacting more laws — should be emphasized, said Sen. Jeff Sessions, Alabama Republican.
“And that’s where the rubber meets the road,” Mr. Sessions said. “That’s where you really begin to impact crime. If you can intimidate — and I believe the word is getting out, it did in our district, that if you carry a gun in a crime, a drug-dealing offense, you can be prosecuted in federal court, given five years in jail without parole, and I believe we saw a decline in a violence rate and a number of drug dealers and criminals carrying guns. But you have to prosecute those cases.”
Republicans repeatedly called for more focus on prosecuting gun crimes. Sen. John Cornyn, Texas Republican, demanded a Senate hearing on the Obama administration’s record of prosecutions.
Mr. Obama met with Ms. Giffords and Mr. Kelly at the White House after the hearing. Hours earlier, White House press secretary Jay Carney acknowledged that the administration needs to do more on gun-crime prosecutions. But he said more prosecutions is not the only solution.
“This [statistic] is being pushed as a reason not to do something that the overwhelming majority of the American people support,” he said.
Told that the statistic was cited by New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, who supports gun control, Mr. Carney replied, “I think the point is that we need to do a lot of things.”
© Copyright 2013 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
Dave Boyer is a White House correspondent for The Washington Times. A native of Allentown, Pa., Boyer worked for the Philadelphia Inquirer from 2002 to 2011 and also has covered Congress for the Times. He is a graduate of Penn State University. Boyer can be reached at email@example.com.
David Sherfinski covers politics for The Washington Times. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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