Today, a month and a half after the Sandy HookElementary School shootings which resulted in the death of 20 children and 6 teachers by a deranged gunman, the debate over gun control will get its first congressional hearing since President Obama suggested sweeping reform of American gun laws.
Judiciary Committee chairman Sen. Patrick Leahy “wants to move legislation, and he wants to do it quickly,” a spokeswoman for the senator said. Wednesday’s hearing will offer a “respectful and productive conversation” concerning “where there is potential for success in passing legislation this year.”
He is particularly interested in testimony from NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre, who has consistently made headlines since the shootings with bold claims that “the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun” and calls for increased access to firearms, including armed guards in schools. LaPierre has drawn criticism from the left and some gun rights supporters for a tone described as “angry” by the New York Times.
"We're talking about the person who is the head of the most powerful gun lobby," a Leahy spokesman said. "They're going to have something to say about it, and they wield a lot of influence, as people have pointed out. To have him come and see what he says - we think that's valuable."
“Law-abiding gun owners will not accept blame for the acts of violent or deranged criminals, nor do we believe the government should dictate what we can lawfully own and use to protect our families,” LaPierre will say in a prepared statement. “We need to be honest about what works and what does not work. Proposals that would only serve to burden the law-abiding have failed in the past and will fail in the future.”
Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa is the committee’s top Republican and is interested in finding solutions involving “other issues besides guns,” including “mental health issues, video games, those types of things.”
Also present will be Mark Kelly, husband of former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who was shot in the head by a gunman who killed six others during an attack on a constituent meeting. Since his wife was shot, Kelly has become an outspoken proponent of gun control and an assault weapons ban.
Giffords herself will be giving an opening statement before the hearing commences.
View the live stream here.