At Joint Subcommittee Hearing, Democrats Stand Up for Commonsense Gun Safety to Protect Communities

Mar 24, 2023
Press Release
Republicans Double Down on Policies that Ensure Gun Violence Will Remain the Leading Cause of Death for Children

Washington, D.C. (March 24, 2023)—Yesterday, Democratic Members of the Oversight and Accountability Committee’s Subcommittee on Economic Growth, Energy Policy, and Regulatory Affairs and the Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Crime and Federal Government Surveillance called for commonsense policies to keep our children safe and held Republicans accountable for allowing gun violence to go unchecked.

 

“Republicans want the U.S. to have an even higher share of the world’s gun supply.  They don’t want commonsense regulations on gun ownership.  Their distorted view of the Second Amendment compels them to argue against reasonable restrictions and against saving lives,” said Rep. Cori Bush, Ranking Member of the Oversight and Accountability’s Subcommittee on Economic Growth, Energy Policy, and Regulatory Affairs, in her opening statement.

 

“Contrary to what some of my Republican colleagues might say, evidence shows that more guns lead to more shootings.  Gun violence is now the leading cause of death among children […] Despite these appalling statistics, Congressional Republicans, aided and abetted by extreme rulings from the federal judiciary in favor of possessing and carrying firearms, have allowed our communities to be flooded with guns of every kind, even in grocery stores and shopping at our major box stores on a Saturday morning,” said Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, Ranking Member of the Judiciary’s Subcommittee on Crime and Federal Government Surveillance, in her opening statement.

 

The hearing included testimony from right-wing gun advocates Amy Swearer, Senior Legal Fellow, Heritage Foundation; Alexo Bosco, Inventor of Stabilizing Brace and Founder of SB Tactical; and Matthew Larosiere of the Zermay-Larosiere Law Group.  The hearing also featured testimony from Rob Wilcox, Federal Legal Director for Everytown for Gun Safety.

 

Mr. Wilcox highlighted how Republicans’ lax gun laws have flooded the nation’s streets with weapons, making gun violence the leading cause of death for children and teens in the United States.

 

  • In response to a question from Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton regarding how guns came to be the leading cause of death among children and teens, Mr. Wilcox explained:  “The other leading causes—automobiles, cancer—those are instances where we’ve innovated for safety.  We’ve innovated for safety with laws, with regulations, with concrete industry action.  The way we drive cars today is very different [from] how we drove ten, fifteen, twenty, thirty years ago.  And we’ve seen children’s deaths from automobiles decrease dramatically, as children’s deaths from firearms continue a slow, but steady increase.  We need that same kind of attention to law, regulatory change, and industry effort if we’re going to keep our kids safe.” 

 

  • Mr. Wilcox responded to Rep. Maxwell Alejandro Frost’s inquiry about the trajectory of gun deaths in America, stating:  “Sadly and tragically, it is getting worse.  The rate of gun deaths has increased 39 percent from 2012 to 2021.”  Mr. Wilcox added that, “The premise of this hearing [opposing ATF regulatory actions] does not get us much closer to the solutions that we need to solve this gun violence epidemic.”

 

  • Addressing Rep. Shontel Brown’s question about the threat ghost guns pose to communities across the United States, Mr. Wilcox testified:  “[Ghost guns are] one of the fastest growing threats to public safety in our country because the untraceable product is the dream of gun traffickers and prohibited people who want to acquire easy to make guns with no record and no background check.”

 

Congressional Democrats and their witness described the importance of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF), which works to keep communities across the country safe from gun violence, promotes responsible gun ownership, and helps local law enforcement agencies stop gun trafficking, and the dangerous consequences of Republicans’ ongoing efforts to abolish the agency.

 

  • In response to a question from Rep. Shontel Brown regarding ATF’s essential partnerships with law enforcement, Mr. Wilcox testified:  “Talking to multiple local law enforcement officials across the country, ATF is the best partner they have in federal law enforcement.  They’re on the scene, they’re in the field, and they’re doing the hard work.  Supporting ATF is supporting law enforcement.  Because that’s who’s helping them with ballistics information, with crime gun tracing, and connecting the dots to trafficking channels […] [T]he only way they get from the shooter to the supplier is in partnership with local law enforcement and ATF.” 

 

  • Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi noted the tragic consequences of Republican opposition to ATF’s earlier efforts to regulate stabilizing braces:  “ATF’s notice to address the stabilizing brace was abruptly abandoned on December 31, [2020], following pressure from House Republicans.  In fact, 90 of my House Republican colleagues pressured ATF into withdrawing its guidance on this particular topic […] On March 22, 2021, ten people were tragically killed at King Soopers grocery store in Boulder, Colorado by a gunman who was armed with an AR-style-pistol with a stabilizing brace.”

 

Congressional Democrats and their witness outlined widely-supported, commonsense policies to prevent gun violence, while ensuring law-abiding citizens can safely own guns, and criticized Republicans for opposing them.

 

  • Responding to Rep. Melanie Stansbury’s question about what actions Congress can take to protect communities, Mr. Wilcox advised:  “First, we need to be implementing the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act and the laws on the books.  Just like ATF’s been doing with ghost guns, with arm braces, with unlicensed sellers who make gun sales without background checks.  We also have to keep passing foundational laws.  Background checks on all gun sales.  Ensuring there’s extreme risk protection order process[es] across the country.  And that people who own guns, like my family, store them securely.”

 

  • Rep. Shontel Brown stated:  “I am a licensed gun owner and respect the rights of individuals afforded under the Second Amendment.  However, we can preserve those rights while also implementing commonsense gun safety measures, many of which are supported by our law enforcement to help them to do their jobs and keep all of us safe.  Despite this, we continue to hear talking points across the aisle against legitimate restrictions on firearms that will support the job of law enforcement and keep our children and communities safe.”

 

  • Ranking Member Jamie Raskin called out Republican’s constitutionally flawed views:  “Our colleagues advance a completely flawed theory of the Second Amendment, which leads them to oppose even commonsense gun safety rules that the Supreme Court has approved and the vast majority of Americans endorse.  Our colleagues embrace what’s called the ‘insurrectionist’ theory of the Second Amendment.”  He added “This theory is completely debunked and destroyed by the text of the Constitution itself and Supreme Court precedent.  Yet their interpretation of the Second Amendment is killing Americans.”

 

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Issues: 
118th Congress