Figures on both sides of the gun control debate tangled today over the effectiveness of background checks, with the husband of wounded former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords urging an overhaul and a top National Rifle Association official saying “homicidal maniacs” will skirt the system no matter what.
NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre was the final witness to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee as the panel begins to consider new legislation. He argued that more security and more enforcement, but not new laws, is the answer to gun violence.
He specifically knocked down a call by President Obama and others for “universal” background checks, particularly at gun shows.
“When it comes to background checks, let’s be honest — background checks will never be universal because criminals will never submit to them,” LaPierre said.
But Giffords’ husband Mark Kelly argued that improving the background check system should be a priority. He said holes in the law “make a mockery” of the system — echoing Obama’s recent proposal, he called for submitting private sales to background checks as well. He further argued that stronger background checks could have prevented the mass shooting in January 2011 where his wife was shot in the head.
LaPierre later got into an argument over the issue with Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., after LaPierre argued that more background checks would merely subject “law-abiding people” to more taxes and fees and hassle without going after “bad guys.”
The disagreement was one of several sticking points as the Senate Judiciary Committee held the first gun control hearing since Obama released a comprehensive gun control plan earlier this month.