U.S. Senator Chris Coons of Delaware

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Judiciary Committee hearing addresses gun violence

The Senate Judiciary Committee convened a hearing on Wednesday to address gun violence and how to prevent future gun related deaths in America. Senator Coons, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee and founder of the Senate Law Enforcement Caucus, attended the hearing and questioned the panel of witnesses who represent the fields of law enforcement, gun control advocacy, and gun rights advocacy.

Chris stated during the hearing that “too many incidents [of gun violence] pile on year upon year.” He is all too familiar with how gun violence is harming our communities, especially in his hometown of Wilmington. Since the start of the 113th Congress, Chris has already cosponsored several bills to prevent gun violence, including: the Large Capacity Ammunition Feeding Device Act, the Justice and Mental Health Collaboration Act, and the Gun Show Background Check Act.

Chris is a strong believer in universal effective background checks. During the hearing, Chris questioned Captain Mark Kelly, USN (Ret.), Americans for Responsible Solutions, about his views on how expanded background checks would help prevent guns from getting in the hands of dangerous people. Captain Kelly, husband of former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords who was shot in a parking lot in 2011 while talking with constituents in Tuscon, Arizona, stated that: “Eighty percent of criminals got their guns from a private sale or transfer that required no background checks.  In the case of Congresswoman Giffords’ shooting, Captain Kelly stated, “If there was an effective background check in Tucson showing a history of mental health data and drug use and if there wasn’t a gun show loophole [the shooter] would have had a hard time getting a gun.”

Senator Coons said he was grateful for the work the National Rifle Association has done to provide training in safe gun ownership for Americans.  Still, he challenged the CEO of the NRA, Wayne LaPierre, on his earlier comment that expanded background checks are not needed because criminals will always find a way to get a gun.  Senator Coons noted that, even if imperfect, a quick background check could help save lives.  LaPierre responded that he believes background checks will create too much unnecessary bureaucracy.

James Johnson, Chief of Police for the Baltimore County Police Department and Chair of the National Law Enforcement Partnership to Prevent Gun Violence said that he disagrees with Mr. LaPierre’s statement on background checks.  He stated “public safety and police are unified that a universal background check would make our society a safer place and make my police officers safer.”

Click here to learn more about Chris’ work with our law enforcement to improve public safety.  

Judiciary Committee
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