Reporting Esme Murphy
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords gave a brief, but emotional, testimony before a Senate panel looking into gun violence Wednesday.
“Speaking is difficult, but I need to say something important. Violence is a big problem. Too many children are dying,” said Giffords.
The hearing laid bare the deep divisions that exist over a push for greater gun control.
Seated in the front row of the hearing was Maya Rahamim, the daughter of Accent Signage shooting victim Reuven Rahamim, as well as relatives of other victims of gun violence.
It was a lengthy hearing, which was marked by clashes over expanding background checks and restricting access to certain types of guns and ammunition.
Among those testifying was the CEO of the NRA, Wayne LaPierre, who strongly argued against expanding background checks to include gun shows and private sales.
“It is an unworkable universal federal nightmare bureaucracy being imposed under the federal government,” said LaPierre. “I don’t think law abiding citizens want every gun sale to be under the thumb of the federal government.”
Sen. Amy Klobuchar was among several Democratic Senators insisting new gun control measures would not hurt law abiding gun owners.
“I come from a hunting state the last thing I want to do is to hurt my Uncle Dick in his deer stand so I want to make sure what we do works,” said Klobuchar.
Opposition among Republican senators was fierce, especially when it comes to proposals that would limit certain weapons and ammunition.
“There can be a situation where a mother runs out of bullets because of something we do here,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina).
Sen. Al Franken says improving access to mental health care is critical in schools nationwide.
“These recent events have caused us to scrutinize our failed mental health system,” said Franken.
Franken will introduce a bill Thursday to expand access to mental health care in schools.
“The shooters that we have seen in Tuscon, Aurora and in Newtown, all were deranged people and perhaps if they had been diagnosed earlier and treated earlier, that would not have happened,” said Franken.
Franken insists his bill for expanding mental health care access in schools will get bi-partisan support.
However, after Wednesday’s hearing, it’s clear that bipartisan support on measures to expand gun control measures will be a very tough battle.