POLITICS

Gun control: Senate hearing turns emotional

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Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., pushed a gun control bill Wednesday that would ban some types of firearms and high capacity magazines. It was an emotional and  contentious hearing over an issue that will deeply divide the Senate.

“Jesse was brutally murdered,” testified Neil Heslin, whose son was killed along with 20 of his classmates at Sandy Hook Elementary.

“Jesse was brutally murdered,” testified Neil Heslin, whose son was killed along with 20 of his classmates at Sandy Hook Elementary School in December.

“He hugged me and held me and I can still feel that hug and a pat on the back. He said ‘Everything’s going to be OK, Dad. It’s all going to be OK' and it wasn’t okay,” Heslin said.

“I’m absolutely determined to make sure that the loudest voice be the voices of those we have lost. We have to speak for them and their families. Enough is enough,” said Vice President Joe Biden.

Supporting democrats’ call for universal background checks as well as bans on high capacity magazines and military-style assault weapons, Darren Wagner brought his family to Washington from Newtown, Conn.

“I don’t feel the need to own military weapons to defend my family,” he said. “We live in America. We live in Newtown. I don’t need an arsenal.”

His son Trystan spent three hours locked down at Newtown High School the day of the shooting.

“We thought at the time there was a second shooter out and we are the closest school to Sandy Hook Elementary. What was going through our minds was something no school student should have to think of,” Trystan said.

Republicans call the bans unconstitutional, instead calling for better enforcement of existing laws, including prosecuting those who fail background checks.

“I’m a bit frustrated,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. “We say how important it is, but in the real world we do absolutely nothing to enforce laws on the books.”

“I want to stop 76,000 people from buying guns illegally,” said Chief Edward Flynn of the Milwaukee Police Department. “That’s what a background check does. If you think we are going to do paperwork prosecutions you are wrong.”

Feinstein’s bill is similar to the 1994 assault weapons ban that expired in 2004.

In a statement, Chris W. Cox, the executive director of the National Rifle Association's Institute for Legislative Action says:

“Senator Feinstein showed clearly today that she isn't serious about finding solutions to the problems of violent crime and mass violence in our country. By allowing audience applause and witness interruptions, she stifled any reasonable discussion of what will work and what will not. Further, she offered no real answer to the Justice Department's research memo which clearly shows that her gun and magazine ban proposals won't work without mandatory confiscation.”

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