Durbin Delivers Opening Statement At Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing On The Dangers Of Civilian Access To Military-Style Assault Weapons

Hearing follows the Independence Day Parade mass shooting in Highland Park, Illinois – the 309th mass shooting this year

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, today delivered an opening statement during the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing entitled “After the Highland Park Attack: Protecting Our Communities from Mass Shootings.”  This hearing—the Judiciary Committee’s tenth hearing held in the 117th Congress on aspects of the nation’s gun violence epidemic—focuses on the dangers of widespread civilian access to military-style assault weapons that can be used to kill large numbers of people in mere seconds.

Key Quotes:

“My heart is broken for these little boys [Aiden McCarthy and Cooper Roberts] and for all of the families mourning their loved ones and struggling to recover from this unspeakable act.  Our nation was still reeling from the horrific mass shootings in Buffalo, New York, and Uvalde, Texas, when the horror came to Highland Park on the Fourth of July.” 

“Eighty-three rounds fired in less than 60 seconds.  The gunman had perched himself on a rooftop and used a Smith & Wesson semiautomatic assault rifle of the AR-15 variety and three 30-round high capacity magazines to commit this massacre.”

“He killed seven people.  Their names are Katherine Goldstein, Kevin and Irina McCarthy, Jacquelyn Sundheim, Stephen Straus, Nicolas Toledo-Zaragoza, and Eduardo Uvaldo.  Dozens more were injured.  Many are still hospitalized.  Thousands experienced trauma that will stay with them forever.”

“The attack in Highland Park was the 309th mass shooting in America this year.  There have been 47 more mass shootings since the Fourth of July.  This is a crushing number when you consider its reflection on life in America and it is disgraceful that we have done so little to stop it.  Too often, the weapons used are military-style assault weapons designed to kill large numbers of people in a matter of seconds.”

“This is the 10th hearing the Senate Judiciary Committee has held this Congress on how to reduce gun violence in America—the tenth.  Today we will discuss the threat our communities face when civilians as young as 18 have easy access to military-style assault weapons like AR-15s and no legal requirement for training.”

“How did we get to this point? Why are these killing machines flying off the shelves, after they were banned for a decade until 2004?  Maybe it’s the ads that market these assault weapons—symbols of ‘independence’ and ‘freedom.’  Or the promise that owning an AR-15-style gun will make you more of a man.  Or could it be the enticing prospect of toting around the same style of weapon that soldiers and Marines use to defend our country in combat.”

“These are the marketing tactics used by gun manufacturers like Mossberg, Bushmaster, and Daniel Defense.  It’s time to name and shame these companies.  It is a disgrace that they have been shielded from accountability, even liability, for the devastation that has been caused by their products.”

“I want those who have lost so much to gun violence to know that I hear you, I see you, and I stand with you in this fight for real change that goes beyond thoughts and prayers.”

“I want to salute some progress.  In the last few weeks, we passed the most significant federal gun safety law in nearly three decades.  We also confirmed an ATF Director for the first time in seven years.”

“But we have got to do more.  If we’re serious about reducing gun violence, we need to keep weapons of war where they belong – on the battlefield, not in our communities.”

Video of Durbin’s opening statement is available here.

Audio of Durbin’s opening statement is available here.

Footage of Durbin’s opening statement is available here for TV Stations.