Dave Kopel’s Testimony At Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing

Dave Kopel replaced Fordham Prof. Nick Johnson at the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on gun violence (sic) yesterday. Below is his prepared testimony before the committee. It also includes Dave answering questions from some senators.

While not as dramatic as the “testimony” that former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords gave, it is a lot more instructive on the issue. Unfortunately, the national media will concentrate on the former and ignore this.

Ted Cruz At The Senate Judiciary Committee Hearings

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) is the junior senator from Texas and a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee. In his comments and questions today at the Judiciary Committee’s hearing on gun violence (sic) he brought out that the bill proposed by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) is concerned with cosmetics and not functionality. It is a message that most Americans are not getting. I think Cruz is correct when he asserts the average American thinks of full-auto firearms when the term “assault weapon” is used.

Wayne LaPierre’s Prepared Testimony In Today’s Gun Control Hearing

The NRA-ILA has published Wayne LaPierre’s prepared testimony given before the Senate Judiciary Committee today. It was for their hearing on “What Should America Do About Gun Violence (sic)?”

JANUARY 30, 2013

Mr. Chairman and Members of the Committee:

It’s an honor to be here today on behalf of more than 4.5 million moms and dads and sons and daughters, in every state across our nation, who make up the National Rifle Association of America. Those 4.5 million active members are joined by tens of millions of NRA supporters.

And it’s on behalf of those millions of decent, hardworking, law-abiding citizens … to give voice to their concerns … that I’m here today.

The title of today’s hearing is “What should America do about gun violence?”

We believe the answer to that question is to be honest about what works – and what doesn’t work.

Teaching safe and responsible gun ownership works – and the NRA has a long and proud history of teaching it.

Our “Eddie Eagle” children’s safety program has taught over 25 million young children that if they see a gun, they should do four things: “Stop. Don’t touch. Leave the area. Tell an adult.” As a result of this and other private sector programs, fatal firearm accidents are at the lowest levels in more than 100 years.[1]

The NRA has over 80,000 certified instructors who teach our military personnel, law enforcement officers and hundreds of thousands of other American men and women how to safely use firearms. We do more – and spend more – than anyone else on teaching safe and responsible gun ownership.

We joined the nation in sorrow over the tragedy that occurred in Newtown, Connecticut. There is nothing more precious than our children. We have no more sacred duty than to protect our children and keep them safe. That’s why we asked former Congressman and Undersecretary of Homeland Security, Asa Hutchison, to bring in every expert available to develop a model School Shield Program – one that can be individually tailored to make our schools as safe as possible.

It’s time to throw an immediate blanket of security around our children. About a third of our schools have armed security already – because it works.[2] And that number is growing. Right now, state officials, local authorities and school districts in all 50 states are considering their own plans to protect children in their schools.

In addition, we need to enforce the thousands of gun laws that are currently on the books. Prosecuting criminals who misuse firearms works. Unfortunately, we’ve seen a dramatic collapse in federal gun prosecutions in recent years. Overall in 2011, federal weapons prosecutions per capita were down 35 percent from their peak in the previous administration.[3] That means violent felons, gang members and the mentally ill who possess firearms are not being prosecuted. And that’s unacceptable.

And out of more than 76,000 firearms purchases denied by the federal instant check system, only 62 were referred for prosecution and only 44 were actually prosecuted.[4] Proposing more gun control laws – while failing to enforce the thousands we already have – is not a serious solution to reducing crime.

I think we can also agree that our mental health system is broken. We need to look at the full range of mental health issues, from early detection and treatment, to civil commitment laws, to privacy laws that needlessly prevent mental health records from being included in the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.

While we’re ready to participate in a meaningful effort to solve these pressing problems, we must respectfully – but honestly and firmly – disagree with some members of this committee, many in the media, and all of the gun control groups on what will keep our kids and our streets safe.

Law-abiding gun owners will not accept blame for the acts of violent or deranged criminals. Nor do we believe the government should dictate what we can lawfully own and use to protect our families.

As I said earlier, we need to be honest about what works and what does not work. Proposals that would only serve to burden the law-abiding have failed in the past and will fail in the future.

Semi-automatic firearms have been around for over 100 years. They are among the most popular guns made for hunting, target shooting and self-defense. Despite this fact, Congress banned the manufacture and sale of hundreds of semi-automatic firearms and magazines from 1994 to 2004. Independent studies, including a study from the Clinton Justice Department, proved that ban had no impact on lowering crime.[5]

And when it comes to the issue of background checks, let’s be honest – background checks will never be “universal” – because criminals will never submit to them.

But there are things that can be done and we ask you to join with us. The NRA is made up of millions of Americans who support what works … the immediate protection for all – not just some – of our school children; swift, certain prosecution of criminals with guns; and fixing our broken mental health system.

We love our families and our country. We believe in our freedom. We’re the millions of Americans from all walks of life who take responsibility for our own safety and protection as a God-given, fundamental right.

Mr. Chairman and members of the Committee, I thank you for your time and consideration.

[1] Pre-1981 data from National Safety Council, Accident Facts (annual); 1981 forward from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, available at http://www.cdc.gov/injury/wisqars/fatal_injury_reports.html.

[2] Gary Fields et al., NRA Calls for Arms in School, Wall Street Journal, Dec. 22, 2012, available at http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324461604578193364201364432.html.

[3] Calculated from U.S. Department of Justice data available through Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, http://tracfed.syr.edu.

[4] Ronald J. Frandsen, Enforcement of the Brady Act, 2010: Federal and State Investigations and Prosecutions of Firearm Applicants Denied by a NICS Check in 2010 , available at https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/bjs/grants/239272.pdf.

[5] Jeffrey A. Roth & Christopher S. Koper, “Impact Evaluation of the Public Safety and Recreational Firearms Use Protection Act of 1994, (1997), available at http://www.sas.upenn.edu/jerrylee/research/aw_ban.htm.

Senate Hearing on BATF Reform Postponed

I received this notice from the Senate Judiciary Committee this morning:

NOTICE OF FULL COMMITTEE HEARING POSTPONEMENT – The Senate Committee on the Judiciary hearing on “Firearms in Commerce: Assessing the Need for Reform in the Federal Regulatory Process” scheduled for Tuesday, September 14, 2010 at 10:00 a.m., in Room 226 of the Dirksen Senate Office Building has been postponed.

According to the note from Erica Chabot that accompanied it, there was a conflict with a Defense Appropriations Subcommittee meeting along with a cloture vote both of which were scheduled for the same time as the BATF reform hearings. No date or time has been set yet for the rescheduled hearings.


Yesterday, a short notice appeared on the Senate Judiciary Committe website. It read in its entirety:

September 7, 2010

The Senate Committee on the Judiciary has scheduled a hearing entitled “Firearms in Commerce: Assessing the Need for Reform in the Federal Regulatory Process” for Tuesday, September 14, 2010 at 10:00 a.m. in Room 226 of the Dirksen Senate Office Building.

By order of the Chairman.

This notice was picked up by everyone from the Drudge Report to Gateway Pundit and assorted gun blogs. Unlike the general blogs, gun blogs didn’t fly into hysteria. Most assumed, correctly, that it was about the BATF Reform Act. SayUncle, David Codrea’s National Gun Rights Examiner, and others made the connection almost immediately.

Part of the problem is that the notice appeared near lunch time and people were away from their desks. Moreover, Erica Chabot, the Committee’s press secretary was out of the office on jury duty and couldn’t respond quickly.

With most everyone having free nationwide long distance with their cell plans, you would have thought that people would have just picked up the phone and called the Committee. That is what I did and what David Codrea did.

I ended up speaking with Stephen Miller, press secretary for the Republicans on the Committee. He said that the primary focus of the hearings would be on S. 941, the BATFE Reform and Firearms Modernization Act of 2009. He noted the Committee Chairman, Sen. Pat Leahy, was one of the 36 co-sponsors of the bill. Mr. Miller said he didn’t have a witness list yet so he could not be sure that the hearings wouldn’t take off on tangents into other areas. He did suggest that I speak with Erica Chabot. I ended up emailing her and got a response this morning.


The Judiciary Committee notices hearings one week in advance, and often times, witness lists are noticed a few days later. We are still working to finalize the witness list for this hearing, and once that is finalized, we will notice it on our website.

This hearing is intended to examine the BATFE’s practices for enforcing Federal laws against federally licensed firearms sellers and proposed legislation to make reforms and improvements to that system.

The hearing will look at S.941, legislation proposed by Senator Mike Crapo, of which Senator Leahy is a cosponsor along with a bipartisan group of 34 other Senators. The legislation is intended to improve the regulatory process for federally licensed dealers by, among other provisions, instituting a graduated penalty system, providing expanded administrative and judicial review of agency sanctions and revocations, and directing the Attorney General to produce investigative guidelines for the BATFE.

Sometimes the most obvious explanation is the correct explanation. That was the case here.

As an aside, the National Shooting Sports Foundation supports this bill and has asked people to contact their Senators to support it.