Durbin Questions Indiana U.S. Attorney on Gun Trafficking During Confirmation Hearing

Senator slams Republicans for prioritizing Trump judicial nominees over dire issues facing country

WASHINGTON – During today’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearing for Thomas L. Kirsch II to be a United States Circuit Judge for the Seventh Circuit, U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) asked Kirsch whether he has taken any steps during his tenure as United States Attorney for the Northern District of Indiana to crack down on illicit gun trafficking arising from Indiana gun shows. Durbin highlighted how the gun show loophole in Indiana – which allows private sellers at gun shows to sell weapons without first conducting an FBI background check of the buyer – fuels pervasive gun trafficking from Indiana to Chicago. If confirmed to the 7th Circuit, Kirsch would serve in the seat left vacant by Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett.

“Gun violence is an epidemic in this country.  On average, more than 100 Americans are killed each day by gunfire - nearly 40,000 per year.  In the City of Chicago, there have been more than 3,600 people shot just this year,” Durbin said. “My question for you, Mr. Kirsch, is this: during your four years as U.S. Attorney in the Northern District of Indiana, what did you actually do to prevent Indiana’s gun shows from being the source of a pipeline of gun trafficking into the City of Chicago?”  

Kirsch responded by noting he’s prosecuted gun crime cases and straw purchase cases, including cases where guns were found in Chicago, but did not mention any enforcement or trafficking prevention efforts involving gun show abuses. 

According to the City of Chicago and Chicago Police Department’s 2017 Crime Gun Trace Report, “the majority of illegally used or possessed firearms recovered in Chicago are traced back to states with less regulation over firearms, such as Indiana and Mississippi.”  The 2017 report found that Indiana alone was the source of 21% of all Chicago’s recovered crime guns.

Video of Durbin’s remarks in Committee is available here. 

Audio of Durbin’s remarks in Committee is available here.

Footage of Durbin’s remarks in Committee is available here for TV Stations.


In a prepared opening statement, Durbin slammed Republicans on the Committee for continuing to hold partisan political hearings and lame duck judicial nominations hearings and ignoring more dire issues facing the country.

“Last week we held the fourth hearing this year trying to undermine the Inspector General’s findings about the Russia investigation. Yesterday we held a hearing on whether social media is unfair to Republicans.  And today we’re holding a hearing on a lame duck President’s judicial nominations.  What a sad state of affairs—in the 116th Congress, this Committee has focused on judges, President Trump’s grievances, and little else.  A Senate Judiciary Committee is a terrible thing to waste,” Durbin wrote.