On Wednesday, the House Judiciary Committee held the first gun violence prevention hearing in the House of Representatives in years. At the hearing, representatives and witnesses discussed the importance of several gun safety measures, including H.R. 8, bipartisan legislation to would help keep guns away from people who shouldn’t have them by requiring background checks on all gun sales, including unlicensed sales among strangers who meet online or at gun shows.
Yesterday, House Judiciary Chairman Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY) announced the Committee will markup the Bipartisan Background Checks Act next week on February 13, the day before the one-year mark of the Parkland mass shooting.
Watch some key moments from the hearing:
- Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) said, about a “study that was done by Everytown for Gun Safety. They reviewed an online firearms marketplace and according to their report, almost 1 in 9 prospective gun buyers from this website would not have passed a background check. They gave one example of a customer in Georgia who was looking to buy a handgun immediately, he said within 24 hours, and a public records request showed he had multiple felony convictions including one for child molestation. He was currently under indictment.”
- Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA) also brought up Everytown’s new online firearms marketplace report, saying “In 2018, on the online site Armslist.com, there were 97 online posts by unlicensed firearms dealers from Gwinnett County, Georgia, which is part of my district. They were advertising guns for sale. That represents potentially at least 97 guns being sold to 97 violent criminals…we can do better than this.”
- Rep. Lucy McBath (D-GA), whose son, Jordan Davis, was shot and killed at a gas station in Jacksonville, Florida, in 2012 by a man who objected to the music he and his friends were playing in their car, spoke about her son and discussed the importance of passing gun safety legislation. “Our community and nation cannot wait any longer for common-sense gun safety solutions like extreme risk [protection] laws and universal background checks.”
- Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) pointed out that one of the minority witnesses, Joyce Lee Malcolm of the Antonin Scalia Law School, holds the Patrick Henry Professorship of Constitutional Law and the Second Amendment, which is endowed by the NRA Foundation Inc.
- Rep. John Stanton (D-AZ) explained that his darkest and hardest days as the Phoenix mayor were due to gun violence. “Our nation stops when there is a mass shooting, but here is the cold reality: Gun violence happens every single day in America. It takes lives every single day. But it has become so commonplace that it doesn’t make headlines. We are here today to examine a public health crisis.”
- Rep. Joe Neguse (D-CO) started his statement by thanking young people, Moms Demand Action volunteers and Shannon Watts, the founder of Moms Demand Action and one of Rep. Neguse’s constituents, for their activism and work on gun violence prevention.
- Rep. Madeleine Dean (D-PA) said the hearing was an extraordinary day of hope. Explaining how background checks save lives by using her own state of Pennsylvania as proof, she remarked “So for those who would have you believe that the bad guys are not going to try and get a gun — nonsense. Utter nonsense.”
- Rep. David N. Cicilline (D-RI) opened his remarks by offering the young people in the audience an apology. “The adults have failed you. And I’m here to tell you that I was a founding member of Mayors Against Illegal Guns [now, part of Everytown for Gun Safety] when I was mayor of the city of Providence. I’ve continued to fight on this issue. We are going to deliver results and it’s because of the voices of young people who have demanded that we do our job and pass common-sense laws that will protect you.”
- Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (D-FL) whose father was shot and killed in Ecuador, said “My father never got the chance to walk me down the aisle. He never met my children. And I want all of you to know that when I took the oath of office, I made a promise that I would not stop until we finally pass common-sense gun reform because I owe it to my father. I owe it to my sisters, to so many parents who have lost their children in my community. And I owe it to all of you here today.”