The House Judiciary Committee is meeting Thursday to discuss a package of bills that would stiffen gun laws in the nation after three separate mass shootings in the past 10 days. The Democratic-led panel is trying to get bipartisan agreement, but that, as we know, is highly unlikely.
The Democrats are hoping to push the “Protecting Our Kids Act” in front of the full House as soon as next week, CBS News reports. The bill will then move to the Senate, where Republicans are historically loath to touch anything that puts the Constitution’s hallowed Second Amendment and America’s love of guns in jeopardy.
If you have hope that things could change anytime soon, look no further than Texas Rep. Louie Gohmert’s comments today, where he angrily accused the Democrats of “controlling” cities with the “worst murder rates.” See how he’s flipping this?
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“Your ideas have been shown to get people killed. Are you here for the murder, the murderers in Chicago? In Philadelphia? And these other major cities? Cause you’re wanting to do nationally what is being done by Democrats in those big cities,” Gohmert said, appearing virtually during the House meeting. “We care about people. We care about their lives … we care deeply. How dare you. How dare you. You arrogant people,” he spit out.
Pennsylvania Democratic Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon responded to Gohmert’s allegations that Philadelphia’s homicide rate is due to Democratic leadership by explaining that the Commonwealth’s Republican-led legislature “for decades” has “blocked city leadership from passing the types of commonsense gun safety laws we are considering today.”
Scanlon went on to say that “like most Americans,” she is “sickened” and “sick to death” of the “gun carnage” seen in the nation daily.
“I will not sit idly by watching preventable tragedies play out over and over again … whether the children and teachers slaughtered in Texas last week, the community members murdered in Buffalo the week before, or the more than a dozen people gunned down in Philadelphia during the Memorial Day weekend.
“In cities and towns across the country, we are mourning too many people whose lives have been cut short … We are not helpless here. We can change this. We can pass gun violence prevention laws that are Constitutional and save lives. All it takes is political courage. A willingness to put American lives above gunmaker profits.”
But just before Scanlon spoke about common sense and rational gun laws, Florida Republican Rep. Greg Steube ridiculously brandished several handguns during the hearing, all while complaining about which of his beloved guns and magazines the Democrats’ proposed gun law would ban.
Republican Rep. Tom Tiffany of Wisconsin blamed everyone and everything from the “real mental health crisis” in the country, to the FBI, to the “defund the police movement,” to the school system’s attempt to “replace the family by withholding information from parents about their own children.”
Thankfully, Rep. Veronica Escobar, a Democrat from Texas, called the GOP what it is: a party of “extremism.” She added: “They post ghoulish photos of themselves with weapons of war, and use it as their Christmas cards ... they participate in congressional hearings virtually adorned with them."
Democratic Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee talked about the conversations she’d had with surviving children and parents in Uvalde, Texas, and how for years the Democrats have attempted to push laws forward that would restrict gun ownership.
“This [bill] is a combination of humanity, courage, decency, and action …. I asked [National Rifle Association leader Wayne Robert] LaPierre to join us. We’re in the crisis of death. We have a war on the children of America,” Lee said.
There is, in fact, a war on our children in this country, as well as on adults and innocent bystanders.
The problem isn’t what we know: it’s what we’re unwilling to face up to and do something about.
As Mara Liasson, national political correspondent for NPR said clearly in a recent interview about what’s stopping gun prevention laws from passing, “88% of voters tell pollsters they're for background checks. Sixty-seven percent of voters say they're for an assault weapons ban. But because we have a system that advantages minority rule in the United States Senate, Republicans don't really have to cater to that majority opinion.
“You know, the Senate is an institution that was designed by the founders to protect the minority party's rights. But over time, because of the way the population has sorted itself out, we pretty much have minority rule. Right now 50 Democrats in the Senate represent 44 million more people than the 50 Republicans. And that means that Republicans really don't run any political risk for voting against popular gun control measures,” Liasson said.
Elie Mystal is on Daily Kos' The Brief podcast today