CAPITOL HILL -- During a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing Wednesday on Capitol Hill about how to prevent gun violence, Senior Fellow of the Independent Women’s Forum Gayle Trotter was loudly heckled by anti-gun advocates in the crowd after she suggested women need firearms to protect young children in their homes.
"An assault weapon in the hands of a young woman defending her babies at her home becomes a defense weapon,” Trotter said as jeers erupted. “Guns are the great equalizer during a violent confrontation.”
Senator Sheldon Whitehouse attempted to lecture Trotter about the type of gun she and women like her should use when defending their families.
Trotter was the only female on a panel of five witnesses who testified.
CATO Institute Policy Analyst and Denver University Professor David Kopel expressed a similar sentiment to Trotter in written testimony, pointing out higher violent crime rates in other countries with strict gun control laws, in particular against women.
“A woman in Great Britain is three times more likely to be raped than an American woman,” Kopel’s testimony reads. “Overall, the violent crime rate in England and Wales is far above the American rate. Using the standard definition for the four most common major violent crimes: homicide, rape, robbery, and aggravated assault.”
The hearing was expected to focus heavily on Senator Dianne Feinstein’s recently introduced assault weapons ban legislation, but instead, focus was shifted toward universal background checks and the lack of criminal prosecutions since 2006, specifically under the Obama Justice Department.
“Federal prosecutors declined 82 percent more cases,” Texas Senator John Cornyn said while suggesting a second look at the country’s background check system in order to see what needs updating.
Many Democrats, Mark Kelly, and Baltimore County Police Chief James Johnson repeatedly pushed for universal background checks by citing a background check statistic throughout the hearing saying, “40 percent of all guns sold don’t go through a background check.” This is a statistic the Washington Post has even declared false.
Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy also claimed there is no federal punishment for straw purchasing, which isn’t true.
The federal government has promoted for decades a program called “Don’t Lie for the Other Guy,” which classifies the purchase of guns for criminals as a felony and includes the sever sentence of up to 10 years in prison for violators.
There was no shortage of Second Amendment mocking either. Illinois Senator Dick Durbin belittled the idea that the Second Amendment was put in place to protect against government tyranny. Chief Johnson said he found it “creepy.” The anti-gun crowd cheered them on and heckled at each mention of the Founding Fathers.
In terms of actual solutions to gun violence, Kopel suggested allowing teachers to carry weapons in schools using Utah as a model where schools have never been attacked. Kopal shot down a new assault weapons ban since it didn’t work the first time.
“In 2005 the National Institute of Justice study found that the 1994-2004 the manufacture or import of such magazines had no discernible benefit,” Kopel said. “Mandating universal background checks will only work with universal gun registration.”
Freshman Senator Ted Cruz cited the Clinton Justice Department in an argument against reinstating a law that didn’t work to reduce crime.
“Assault weapons ban failed to reduce the average number of victims of gun murder and incidents of multiple,” Cruz said citing Clinton’s DOJ. “Under it there has been no discernible reduction the lethality and injuriousness of violence.”
The NRA’s Wayne LaPierre suggested armed guards in schools to protect children from violent intruders, asked that violent criminals be thrown in jail instead of released by Holder’s DOJ and dismissed calls for a new assault weapons ban and universal background checks.
"Feinstein's bill is based on falsehoods that people not familiar with firearms don't understand,” LaPierre said, adding a universal background check system will only lead to a “universal nightmare.”
Editors note: a previous version of this post referred to James Johnson as the Baltimore Police Chief. He is the Baltimore County Police Chief.