Senate gun hearing: Controversy over background checks

Mark Kelly, left, husband of critically wounded Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords who was seriously injured in the mass shooting that killed six people in Tucson, Ariz. two years ago, listens as Wayne LaPierre, right, National Rifle Association Chief Executive Officer, testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on gun violence on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2013. Also on the panel is David Kopel, second from left, law professor at Strum College in Denver and Gayle Trotter, senior fellow with the Independent Women’s Forum. Supporters and opponents of stricter gun control measures faced off at a hearing on what lawmakers should do to curb gun violence in the wake of last month's shooting rampage in Newtown, Ct., that killed 20 schoolchildren. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Senate gun hearing: Controversy over background checks

Storified by Digital First Media· Wed, Jan 30 2013 13:09:39

A Senate committee held a wide-ranging hearing Wednesday about gun control. Although topics included a proposed assault weapons ban, mental health and crime, the proposed expansion of federal background checks to buy guns was the most-discussed measure.
According to a transcript, the phrase “background check” came up 137 times at the hearing, compared to “assault weapon,” which came up only 33 times.
Here are some of the key things people said at the hearing about background checks.

“When it comes to background checks, let’s be honest.Background checks will never be universal because criminals will never submitto them.”

— Wayne LaPierre, CEO of the National Rifle Association.

“Mr. LaPierre, that’s the point. The criminalswon’t go to purchase the guns because there will be a background check.”

— Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill.

“You know, Adam Lanza at Newtown didn’t havebackground checks. He stole the guns after murdering his mother.”

— David Kopel, policy analyst at the libertarian Cato Institute

“The best way to stop a bad guy from getting agun in the first place is a good background check.”

— Baltimore County Police Chief James Johnson

“We’d like to see the federal laws that are onthe books enforced.”

— Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala.

“Universal background checks is a proven, effective step wecan take to reduce gun violence. And I believe it has a good chance of passing.”

— Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.

“I bought a hunting rifle from Walmart a fewmonths ago, and I went through a background check. It didn’t take very long.”

— Mark Kelly, husband of former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz.

“I know gun store owners in Vermont. They followthe law. They conduct background checks to block the conveyance of guns tothose who should not have them. And they wonder why others who sell guns do nothave to follow these same protective rules.”  

— Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt.