Not long after Gabrielle Giffords delivered a brief, moving statement on gun control to the Senate Judiciary Committee, things got predictably less civilized. As if to counter with someone completely unsympathetic, NRA vice-president Wayne LaPierre spoke for the pro-gun side, arguing once again, "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." That was only the beginning.
Asked by Senator Patrick Leahy if he still supports mandatory background checks at gun shows — "yes or no?" — LaPierre dodged. "I'm not trying to play games here," said a gruff Leahy.
"I do not believe, the way the law is working now, unfortunately, that it does any good to extend the law to private sales between hobbyists and collectors," responded LaPierre. Forced to clarify, he said, "We do not. Because the fact is the law right now is a failure the way it's working." The NRA was proudly live-tweeting throughout the hearing.
But things really got going with the testimony of Gayle Trotter from the Independent Women's Forum, as captured here by Talking Points Memo:
On the subject of assault weapons like the AR-15, she raved, "They have good handling, they're light, they're easy for women to hold, and most importantly, their appearance."
"An assault weapon in the hands of a young woman defending her babies in her home becomes a defense weapon," Trotter continued. "And the peace of mind that women has as she's facing three, four, five violent attackers, intruders in her home, with her children screaming in the background, the peace of mind that she has knowing that she has a scary looking gun gives her more courage when she's fighting hardened, violent criminals." She did not provide statistics to back up her hypothetical.
"We hear that no one needs to carry larger magazines than those that hunters use to shoot deer," added Senator Chuck "Assume Deer Dead" Grassley. "But an attacking criminal, unlike a deer, shoots back."
Senator Dick Durbin, though, undercut the abstract absurdity on display with a story from Chicago: A 15-year-old girl who performed last week at inaugural events for President Obama was shot dead yesterday near her South Side high school. The audience gasped. "We are awash in guns," Durbin said. "We have guns everywhere. And some believe the solution to this is more guns. I disagree."