The House Judiciary Committee held a hearing/markup session Thursday on Chair Jerrold Nadler’s new gun bill, the “Protecting Our Kids Act,” which among other things would raise the minimum age to purchase a semiautomatic long gun from 18 to 21, require locked storage of firearms so kids can’t get to them, limit the capacity of new ammunition magazines, and tighten up federal laws on gun trafficking and straw purchases. As you’d expect, Democrats spoke about the need to protect children and communities from gun violence, while Republicans made all sorts of excuses why everything in the world other than guns is responsible for mass shootings.
Rep. Lucy McBath (D-Georgia) who ran for Congress so she could work to limit the horrors of gun violence after her teenaged son was shot dead in 2012 for being in a car that was playing music too loudly for a man with a gun, said that she knew all too well what families in Uvalde, Texas, felt when they heard their children had been shot dead:
We’re paying for gun violence every single day of our lives. […] We are paying for unfettered access [to guns] with mothers and fathers waiting in line for a DNA test, forced to find out if it’s their child that’s riddled with bullets and maimed beyond recognition. We are paying for this deadly culture with the lives of the American people. […]
Do we have the courage right here in this body to imagine the phone call parents across Uvalde received last week? The phone call that confirms our fear, our singular fear that my child is dead. That I was unable to protect them. Because I know that phone call.
Parents across the country know that phone call. It’s a sucker punch to my stomach every time I learn there’s another phone call — a phone call that brings you to your knees, when the desperation will not let you stand, that leaves you gasping for air, when the agony will not let you breathe.
And for days and for months and for years, you cry out to God in your grief. Was my child afraid? Did he feel the pain as the bullets ripped through his skin? How long did it take him to die? Was it quick? Or did he suffer?
McBath recounted how her son was killed, how his dreams — and her dreams for him — were cut short, thanks to a man with a gun. Do watch the full video in the tweet above; it’s heartbreaking.
The solemnity of McBath’s comments was quickly replaced by pure shitheadedness by the ranking Republican on the committee, Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), who accused Democrats of wanting to repeal the Second Amendment, because after all, on TV, Michael Moore said the amendment should be repealed. Rep. Nadler (D-New York) replied, “I wasn’t aware that Michael Moore was a Democratic member of the House.”
Republicans managed to get even stupider. There was Louie Gohmert’s pretended outrage that anyone might think Republicans care more about guns than children’s lives, which we covered yesterday. There was the usual “It’s too soon!” prevarication from Matt Gaetz (R-Florida). He was joined in those worries by Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Arizona), who added a “Chicago!” for extra racism points.
Rep. Tom McClintock (R-California) rapidly fired off a whole ammo can’s worth of crappy arguments, explaining that the only way to stop all the shootings is to have a lot more guns than we already do.
McClintock took the classic Republican Law and Order tack of arguing that laws just plain don’t work, so we may as well not have any, because good people will follow the law and bad people don’t, a point that was perhaps undermined by the detail that in the mass shootings in Buffalo and Uvalde (and now in Tulsa, as well), the shooters all purchased their guns legally. He insisted that schools should be protected like “any bank in this country,” where there’s always at least one armed guard; this was news to the many of us who’ve never seen an armed guard at our banks. (Then again, I use a credit union; maybe it’s just lax on security.)
In a real triumph of logic, McClintock also pointed to the fact that whenever there’s a mass shooting, Democrats demand more laws restricting firearms, but “if these laws actually worked, wouldn’t things be getting better by now, rather than worse?”
He might have a point, were it not for the fact that he and his fellow Republicans have blocked virtually every attempt to tighten up gun laws for decades. “These laws” haven’t done much to stop gun violence, mostly because they never passed.
McClintock also suggested that we need to lock up all the mentally ill people, and that the real problem with mass shootings is that “woke prosecutors” keep letting dangerous offenders out on the streets, a point he tried to illustrate by noting that Hunter Biden hasn’t been prosecuted for having a gun despite his drug addiction. Yes, Hunter Biden.
We’ll just note that Hunter Biden did not commit any mass shootings, while again, the most recent killers passed their background checks with no problems. No mental illness, no woke prosecutors. They were law-abiding gun owners right up until they started shooting. In the case of the gunman in Tulsa, that was only a few hours: He bought his AR-15 at 2:00 Wednesday afternoon, and murdered four people at a hospital, including a surgeon who had operated on him, shortly before 5:00. (Clearly, we need to lock up everyone with chronic back pain.)
McClintock went on, suggesting that law-abiding citizens with guns probably stop mass shootings all the time, pointing to an unusual case last week in which a woman in Charleston, West Virginia, shot a man carrying an AR-15 before he could fire into a graduation party. Good for her! Of course, there have been 233 mass shootings so far this year, so to balance those out, we’re sure McClintock can show us another 232 cases where a good guy with a gun stopped a mass shooting.
The hearing’s highlight, though, came from Rep. Greg Steube (R-Florida), who demonstrated just how deeply and lovingly Republicans think of guns. Participating by video, Steube showed off a few handguns from his personal arsenal, and lied about the effect of the bill on his own sweet 9mm babies. The gun bill would ban the sale or manufacture of new magazines that can hold more than 10 rounds, but it explicitly does not apply to magazines manufactured prior to the law’s effective date.
But Steube contended the bill would make his very own personal hand cannons illegal, because they’re designed to hold more than 10 rounds. He was, of course, lying, as we explained: The bill explicitly excludes existing magazines. As far as we can tell, it applies only to detachable magazines like you’d use in a semiautomatic rifle, not the magazines built into a handgun. In any case, Steube’s precious handguns are fine, his manhood unthreatened.
Still, it’s fun to watch him manically pick up and set down guns and magazines like a demented gun-toting Irwin Mainway hawking the fun toy, “Bag O’ Bullets.” while he’s waving around his guns, Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) interjects, “I hope that gun’s not loaded,” to which Steube, testifying remotely, seems genuinely aggrieved: “I’m in my house. I can do whatever I want with my guns.”
Would have been a perfect moment for him to shoot out a window, but it didn’t happen.
The Judiciary Committee passed the “Protecting Our Kids Act” on a party-line vote of 25 to 19; the full House is likely to vote on it next week. And then the 50 Republicans in the Senate will filibuster it, because as any fool knows, laws only work when you’re preventing people from voting or getting an abortion.
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