tv Public Affairs CSPAN March 10, 2013 4:20pm-6:00pm EDT
durbin, and others in looking at the purchasing and trafficking of firearms. others have joined us in that bill including senator clow chew char, senator king, and i'll plan when we get on it i'll offer -- senator klobuchar. a substitute we find the provisions with the text of the leahy-collins bill. i reach out to the senators, those discussions bore fruit. the substitute incorporates a pending bills provision, and its creation of a specific crime for straw purchasing designed to prevent criminals from using straw purchasers who can pass a background check and then hand those firearms to the criminals. straw purchasers circumvent the purpose of the background check
system, and we have found many -- everything from drug gangs to others who have used guns that the gang members could not have bought but the straw purchaser has. straw purchasing is done only to get a gun in the hands of somebody who is prohibited from having one. i think we need a meaningful solution to this problem. as substitute we include suggestions, senator gillibrand, to require those that traffic in firearms by wrongfully obtaining two or more firearms, and we'll give law enforcement more effective tools. the substitute also incorporates a number of changes, the result of suggestions from senator grassley and his staff. we have been working on this since january. tried to be responsive to the
ranking member's concerns and suggestions, and have reached across the aisle to other senators. as a a.t.f. whistleblower, senator grassley has been the lead senator in whistleblower legislation, was a a.t.f. whistleblower, who testifiedlaws are toothless and they can help law enforcement -- can't help law enforcement, and that's why law enforcement consistently has called for firearms trafficking statute that can be effective and go after straw purchasers. we need now is to create better law enforcement tools. and i think this will -- the senators can join together on this will close a very dangerous loophole in the law that mexican criminals have exploited for too long.
stop illegal trafficking the firme arms act is important. this week -- the firearms act is important. this week the "usa today" ran a front page story about a study that estimates gun violence costs americans $12 billion, $12 billion a year. i don't care whether it's $12 billion or $10 billion or $2 mitigate those unnecessary costs. i want to yield to senator grassley and then we'll take -- i think we have four or five nominees prepared to go forward. senator grassley. >> i would like to suggest three steps here. one would be to take care of the nominations. the other one i have an issue
that i'd like to just make a statement on. and then i have a general statement on the -- this whole issue of the four different bills, and i would like to have any of my members that want to make statements just before you bring up debate on the legislation. >> obviously i'll give time -- i think we tried last week to get as many of those statements, including mine and yours, out of the way, but naturally i'll yield to people who wish to make statements. some are going down for the bill signing, and others i do not want to lose a quorom. go ahead. >> as you can see from the absence on my side except for maybe three of the newer members, we all have people that have responsibilities in other committees. that's why i bring that up. let me say that we are able to, i think, unless one of my
members want a vote on -- members want a vote on alahandros i think we can do all the nominations by voice vote. why don't we do that first? >> you want a roll call? >> we do not need a roll call now i have been informed by that one member. >> i would -- why don't we -- i appreciate your cooperation. i would ask consent that we consider sherry shapell, michael j. mcshane, nitza al handrow, lee wuse strapo and jeffrey schmell, - louise -- luis philippe. we consider enplanning, all of those in favor say aye. opposed? the ayes will be unanimous. and shapell, mcshane,al handrow, strapo and schmell.
reported to the floor. >> following up on that i would like to bring up something you hearing i very much appreciate your bringing up. and that is at the oversight hearing with general holder there was a significant discussion about the oil sea memoranda regarding targeting killings americans abroad. chairman leahy and i wrote to president obama on february 7, one month ago, asking that he instruct the attorney general to provide these memoranda to the judiciary committee. i don't think -- at least i haven't, i don't think the chairman's received a response. i wanted to highlight a statement that chairman leahy made to general holder yesterday this
committee subpoena the documents. i want everybody, both i fully effort and would urge that absence a response from the president that we move forward with a vote in the near future. then i'll go to my statement. i'm nod asking you to comment, but at least you know how i feel about it. but i think you feel strongly about it or you wouldn't have brought it up. >> i also spoke again with the attorney general now going into private conversation, i think that he's -- he would like us to be able to see that and i think the decision we remains within the white house. i'm sorry they haven't even responded to our letter, but if need be we will subpoena because it is a matter, and we are going to have, for those of you who weren't there at the hearing when we talked about this, we are going to have a hearing on domestic use of
droughns in this committee -- drones in this committee. it would be helpful to have that, helpful but not necessary to have that letter prior to that time, but we are going to have many of you on both sides of the aisle have raised concerns about the domestic use of droneshearing on that. thank you. >> the committee and subcommittee have held three hearings and legislation related to our purpose of voting bills out today. while i believe that addressing violent -- violence requires examining more than guns, guns were the near exclusive focus of those hearings and will be the near exclusive focus of the bills the committee sees fit to mark up. all of us were strongly affected by what happened in newtown. all of us want to take effective action to prevent future tragedies, but we have different deeply held approaches to do so.
what we are talking about today is freedom, freedom not only guaranteed by the constitution but what the supreme court recognized as a pre-existing right of self-defense. individuals do not need the government's permission to defend themselves. today gun violence rates are at the lowest level in 50 years. this is a tremendous accomplishment. there are many reasons for it, including longer incarceration of dangerous criminals, abolition of parole, and police practices. this drop in gun violence has occurred even as there are more guns in the country than ever before. it has occurred after the supreme court has found the second amendment to be a fundamental right, and after many states have increased the ability of law- abiding citizens to own guns. the drop has also occurred despite any new federal gun control enactment in almost 20 years.
but a majority of the committee seems determined to impose more gun restrictions on law-abiding citizens. consider the assault weapons ban. this bill represents the biggest gun ban proposal in our history. a similar ban was enacted in 1994. and the justice department's own studies failed to show that the ban had any effect. some of my colleagues speak, we invite demonled rumsfeld on this point and i quote him, absent of evidence isn't evidence of absence. but the assault weapon ban did not work. and just this year the deputy director of the national institute of justice wrote that, quote, an assault weapons ban is unlikely to have an impact on gun violence. but rather than trying something different, the first bill on the agenda is an assault weapons ban. it is based on how guns look not the damage they do. and ar-15 is prohibited while a
mini 14 is exempt because one has a wooden stock and the other a plastic one. other guns that are more powerful than prohibited guns are exempted. the gun that -- guns that it bans are not ones that are used in the military. as they are semiautomatic. they are in common use. and banning large capacity magazines last fails a rational basis scrutiny when the bill exempts a class of shotguns that can be continuously reloaded. the bill is not like passing a law that criminalizes speeding. it is like banning the ornaments from having the capacity of exceeding 65 miles per hour while exempting trucks from the same requirement. at the hearings the justice
department did not endorse a specific ban, but said that nonetheless that a ban could be constitutional. they did not suggestion what level of scrutiny courts would apply to a bill with second amendment implications. they also said that they would develop an analysis of the bill's constitutionality, but it speaks volumes when we are about to mark up such a bill and that analysis is not forthcoming. i think it is necessary to point out that had this bill been law at the time, sandy hook still would have happened. it would not have stopped a mentally disturbed person while stealing a gun that this bill would have not banned from his mother and then shooting unharmed children at a school for several minutes before police arrived. on background checks without notice we were given an entirely new bill late yesterday. i know the sponsor says that he does not intend to create a national gun registry, and i
accept that as his intent. i would just say that the deputy director of n.i.j. recently wrote that universal background checks can be enforced only if there is gun registration. i note that at the hearings some stated that criminals are foiled from buying guns because they do not go to gun stores to buy guns. they recognize that prohibited persons do not now submit the background checks although they obtain guns which is why they want to expand checks. but they fail to recognize that criminals won't be any more likely to submit to expanded background checks than they are currently. they will go around supposedly universal checks to steal guns or buy them in the black market. when the universal background checks don't work, then registration will be proposed to enforce them. when that doesn't work, because criminals won't register their
guns, we may be looking at confiscation. there is a refusal to consider that gun control of law-abiding citizens does not work. if gun control worked, we would expect to see that places with stricter gun laws would have less crime than those where it was easier for law-abiding citizens to have guns. instead, law-abiding citizens obey the laws and criminals don't. and those areas with gun control often have more crime. under federalism, state and local -- localities are laboratories of experimentation. results of different approaches come in and then the federal government learns which laws work better than others as it considers national legislation. but that is not what is argued for gun control. we are asked to adopt nationally the policies that have not worked at the state and local level. we are told that poor results in places with gun control are
due to more lenient gun rules elsewhere in the have a sinity -- vicinity, but if that were true one would expect more crime in the suburbs where guns are lawfully available than cities where there are not. and the states where guns are not easily able to be purchased than in states where they are not. however, this is not the case. restrictions on gun rights of law-abiding citizens do not work. again, rather than trying to approach a different approach, supporters of gun control not only want to double down on failed strategy, they want to impose on the nation as a whole despite the second amendment. i do think that action can be taken on gun trafficking and straw purchasing, but because those are actions by criminals and occur across state lines, i am glad that we have a bill on that subject on the agenda. i appreciate the efforts of the chairman and other senators to be receptive to changes to the original legislation.
and when that bill comes up, i'll speak about that. the final bill on the agenda is school safety bill. that bill originally had an enormous cost at time when we were entering a sequester. however senator boxer and senator warner, the bill's sponsors, have shown flexibility on spending amounts and other issues, and so i want them to know that i appreciate those efforts. mr. chairman, republicans will make sure that we get the finality on these bills, and not meaning any criticism they were not ready to consider -- to be considered last week, we will raise a fairly -- small number of amendments which is how the committee process works. we are not standing in the way of any of these bills from being voted in a timely fashion. a number of members on the democrat side made statements about these bills last week and i know that members on my side would like to at this point. >> thank you. i appreciate the cooperation.
bring up s. 54, the trafficking bill. stop illegal trafficking in firearms act. and following normal procedure, i will amend it with my substitute which is based on the text of the leahy-collins bill. i assume there is no objection to the substitute. it's a bill -- without objection. the bill as amended by the substitute is now opened for further >> if i could, i would start the discussion. before i make a statement, i think -- i have not talked to senator sessions. i talked to senator cornyn. you folks want to make
statements overall or you're ready to go to straw purchasing bill? it's on the agenda now. so the chairman has the right to bring it up. or do you want to go right to this? >> i have statements on both, but i'd be happy to address the straw purchasing bill first. >> how about you, senator sessions? >> i'll proceed with the amendment process. >> we are ready to go on your bill. can i speak now? >> sure. go ahead. >> ok. i greatly appreciate the substitute amendment. i have offered an amendment to the bill which i will discuss separately. federal legislation needed on subjects of straw purchasing and gun trafficking will strengthen efforts to combat illicit firearms. when i conducted my oversight of the justice department failed operations fast and furious, i was told by whistle blowers that there were gaps in federal laws concerning straw purchasers which should be addressed, and this is our opportunity to do it.
mr. chairman, you have worked with me on your bill making many changes at my request. they have made the bill better and reduced the negative side effects of previous versions. i trust you think so as well because you have included the changes in the new bill. the new bill in your substitute amendment also included a revised bill by senators gillibrand and kirk on the subject of -- subject of gun trafficking. those revisions also reflect changes that i asked senator gillibrand to make, and i think it would be worthwhile to outline all the changes that have been made to the bill since they were first introduced. i think they demonstrate good faith of the chairman and s
enator gillibrand. gillibrand's bill originally would have made it a federal crime to transfer two or more guns if that person knew that the result would be a violation of state or local law. that would have given states and localities a one-way incentive to address new gun control measures and force the cost of prosecution and incarceration on the federal government. it also would have created for the first time a situation in which violation of state criminal law was an element of federal offense. she took that provision out at my request. i raised similar concerns about the language in the chairman's bill and you also removed that language. senator gillibrand also accepted major and minor drafting suggestions, including clarifying what intent was necessary to commit a crime, penalties, changing the gift exception, altering the
directive for the sentencing commission, and others. chairman has also made changes to his bill at my request compared to when senate s. 54 was originally introduced, it is now directed only at straw purchasers not at all transfers on behalf of another. this allows people to buy for people as part of a legitimate business, it preserves private now the bill goes to actual straw purchasers, those who purchase a gun on behalf of a prohibited person. like senator gillibrand, you harmonize penalties at my request and remove references federalizing violation of state war local law. -- or local law. you made changes regarding sales to persons who do not reside in the state. you took language -- took out language concerning teerlt of false statements on -- materiality of false statements on the forms. separated the rules for purchase from licensed dealers from
those of private sales. limiting and -- and also limiting the bill to engaging indirectly in the conduct that is already illegal. you have protected the right of law-abiding citizens as i have outlined in ways that i believe were not protected in either the original straw purchasing bill or the original trafficking bill. as a result of the changes to each bill and to their combination in the substitute, the bill now covers only criminals and law-abiding -- and not law-abiding citizens. since you have made good -- shown good faith, i will now demonstrate mine as well. some on my side believe the bill needs more work to resolve outstanding issues between now and when the bill goes to the floor. that is something that i hope will happen with the chairman's help. with that understanding and if my amendment is adopted, i will vote to report your bill out today. i thank you for what you have done so far, mr. chairman. >> thank you. i appreciate that. you and i have worked closely on this as we have on a number of things. i mean, our bill is tough on criminals. it's crafted so it won't sweep in private seller and buyer of firearms. but it's done in way that we can deter those who abuse the trust of a firearms dealer by
engaging in straw purchasing. you noted a lot of your concerns are reflected in my substitute amendment. i understand the intent behind the amendment that you are raising. i am concerned the amendment could unduly hamper other law enforcement operations that are properry supervised. including terrorism and drug investigations. we all agree that the government should never permit guns to be transferred to dangerous criminals. this happened in fast and furious. but sometimes to combat straw purchases the government has to
be given latitude to act on a tip and arrest a straw purchaser upon or immediately after a sale, but having said that, i will -- i hope we will continue to together prior to the time the bill comes to the floor. so i am -- if there is no objection i'm prepared to accept your amendment. >> ok, let me -- >> do you offer the amendment? >> let me -- i offer the amendment. since you said what you just said, i'm going to put my statement in the record. let me say that i'm willing to consider reasonable changes to my amendment provided the changes don't harm the goals of holding the department of justice accountable for gun operations where veps could walk. fast and furious was a debacle that will haunt the department of justice for decades. these operations need oversight and accountability.
and from that point on oversightthat's an area where i have to draw the line if you'll take that into consideration. we can talk when the bill gets to the floor. >> without objection, the bill is amended by the amendment of the senator from iowa. are there other amendments? >> mr. chairman. >> senator cornyn. >> mr. chairman, i believe that stop illegal trafficking firearms act of 2013 which would create several new criminal penalties and amend statutory authorities to target weapons trafficking -- -- excuse me, if the senator would hold for just a second? senator hatch has a statement he want the to -- wants to include in the record. a -- also clarify the amendment we just accepted was senator grassley was alb-13193. >> yes.
>> thank you, senator. >> my concern is that this bill is a solution in search of a problem. straw purchasing for purpose of directing guns to people who cannot legally attain them is already a crime. so we double down and say this time we really mean it. when in fact the real problem, i think, in many instances, is the lack of prosecution of existing crimes by the department of justice. as i have said earlier and i'll say again, i have a hard time explaining to my constituents back home how passing more laws that will go unenforced make them any safer. so i'm -- while i understand the desire to act to seem like we are doing something, i worry about the disconnect between the action and any solution to the problems that we all are
concerned about. i also worry, mr. chairman, that this legislation which has been shared with my staff, i understand, about the last 36 hours, we haven't had an adequate opportunity to try to vet it and understand what the ramifications might be. my hope would be that there would be some additional time offered. staff and work on a bipartisan basis to address the concerns we have. for example -- >> you're talking about the amendment that was introduced and circulated on monday?
today is thursday. >> my staff advises it was circulated yesterday. >> it was introduced on monday. >> my staff tells me we got it yesterday. the point is, let me just give you an example. for instance, the bill would make it a crime punishable by up to 20 years in prison for a person to attempt or plan to buy a firearm as a gift or raffle item. if the person neglectly fails to know that the recipient is prohibited from purchasing a firearm. in other words, this bill would make it a serious felony for an american legion employee to neglectly transfer a raffled firearm to a veteran who unknown to the transferor suffers from ptsd. that example, and i'm sure there are others, causes me concern that we are getting ready to vote on a piece of legislation when we really don't know what the scope or the consequences of the legislation are. which to me counsels taking our time and making sure we understand what the impact will be rather than passing legislation that will have
unintended consequences that none of us would endorse, but which, in our haste to try to show the we are doing something, we end up creating that unintended consequence. >> you're talking about your amendment atm-13249, is that correct? >> i'm talking about s. 54 stop illegal trafficking -- -- i understand. are you introducing an amendment? >> i have not offered an amendment. >> if there are no amendments, then the clerk will call the roll on s. 54 as amended. >> i wanted to share something on that.
mr. chairman, i do express concern about the penalties and this legislation is difficult to write. i know the chair has worked hard on it. i have some concerns about it. in general i support the concept of what you're doing. i think the department of justice has said there are areas in which they are not able to effectively enforce these laws. and they need better legislation. and i'm inclined to think that that's so. although i would note to my colleagues that if you provide a gun to someone that's intending to use it in a drug crime or problemry or a murder, you're an aider and abettor which makes you chargeable with a murder, or part of a conspiracy to do that and you're chargeable in that way.
and that's the way it's normally prosecuted today. so if you go into a gun dealer and certify and the 4473 form, i have prosecuted these cases, if you lie on that form, you are subject to a false statement and the penalties are in the code set forth. i suppose if the person leaves the country like in the -- on situation we had at the border where thes guns go into another country, it's difficult -- all you got left is a violation of the paperwork regulation. that may not be sufficient to properly punish a person. or it may leave you difficult -- fundamentally i think you have some valuable legislation here. but i am a bit troubled by the size of the penalty. i know the chair wants to be tough on this, but at the same time we want to be consistent with other penalties. carrying a firearm during a drug offense is five years. if you brandish it and threaten somebody, it's 10 years. mandatory minimum.
thisu've got 15 years in offense for providing a gun to somebody who may use it illegally, which would be -- i'm not sure that is coherent with our -- >> are you saying i'm being too tough? >> maybe. really. of course some of this will be decided by the sentencing >> most of the people i prosecuted back in vermont thought i was too tough, too. >> i have always been aggressive in prosecuting these cases. i would say to you i would just share my concern about that issue. andthink we could fix it and probably solve some problems. >> ok. the clerk will -- ask one last question? >> of course. >> is it the intent of the authors of the bill to make it a
crime punishable for up to 20 years for a person to attempt or plan to buy a firearm as a gift or raffle item the person neglectly fails to know the recipient is prohibited from for example? >> no, we -- >> an american legion employee -- >> we drafted it -- intent of the authors of the legislation? >> no. >> that is the result of this legislation which i suggest is not -- we need to take our time to make sure we understand what we are doing here. and the problem is senator grassley's amendment was offered just a few moments ago, which you accepted, and i appreciate the fact that you all are able to work together so well, and this committee should be working together, but to jam through legislation that we don't know what the consequences are which would criminalize this american legion employee i think is not our intention. but that is the result of the legislation of everyone who votes in favor of this bill, as
currently written. that can't be our purpose. >> and that is not the way the legislation is written. you and i have a different view of that, but it's not the way the legislation is written. it is not the way the legislation is intended. beforeave plenty of time this matter comes on the floor. if you convince me that you're right and i'm wrong on this, i'll be happy to consider an amendment, even further clarification, but we have been very careful to be sure we don't sweep in innocent transfers between private buyer of the nature you are talking about. >> mr. chairman? >> the other senator from texas. >> mr. chairman, i wanted to thank the chairman for his good and hard work on this bill, and
i think this bill has the potential for providing some real bipartisan agreement. i think from the beginning members of this committee on both sides of the aisle have agreed that the efforts to focus on criminals should be the primary area of focus for preventing violent gun crime. i think this bill takes steps in that direction. i agree with the senior senator from texas that i have concerns that certain language, particularly the language in 932 could potentially be too broad. and could potentially sweep in innocent purchasers rather than those knowingly participating in violent crime and knowingly aiding those who would participate in violent crime from acquiring firearms. i do think there is potential. before this bill is voted on in the floor of the senate to reach some bipartisan agreement that could end up having wide agreement.
so i thank the chairman for thatnarrowed so we can be sure not to sweep in innocent conduct. i think we could find wide agreement in the underlying framework here. >> i come from the state where the kind of innocent purchase back and forth you talked about often happened. as you know i'm a gun owner. i spend a lot of time with my fellow gun owners, and one of the -- i do not know if i am the only person on this committee. buti'm probably one of the few who have a pistol range in my back beyond a reasonable doubt which -- backyard which i use except when we have two feet of snow. so i'll be happy to sit down with you. i'm wondering -- we have a lot ahead of us. if we have the clerk call the roll. >> mr. chairman? >> let me see one thing. >> 15 seconds.
>> what the senator -- two senators from texas have brought up our concerns that i have had, and that's what i have been trying to work for. obviously i haven't satisfied these two senators, but i just want you to know those were the things that we have been trying to solve here and hopefully we have solved them. you of that. but i'll still work to help you they ought to be made. >> mr. chairman -- >> senator sessions, you wish to be heard again? >> i believe the language you used is reasonable cause to believe that they might be unable to receive a which is pretty close to what senator cornyn says is negligence. so you've got some cause to believe your brother-in-law may have had -- been convicted of a felony or may have -- dealing -- selling drugs.
>> my brother -- >> you brought him a gun and if he used the gun during a drug offense, he gets five years. but if you sell the gun to him you can get 15. >> my brother-in-law is a well respected catholic priest and professor. >> well, i am just telling you. >> my brother-in-law -- >> that's too broad a language and i hope to be able to support the legislation. we can talk about it. thank you for allowing us to continue this negotiation. for today i would record a no vote. >> i have tried to follow existing law, the clerk will call the world. -- call the world. -- roll. >> mrs. feinstein. >> eye. >> mr. schumer. aye. >> mr. durbin. >> mr. whitehouse. >> miss klobuchar.
aye. >> mr. franken. >> aye. >> mr. coons. >> mr. blumenthal. >> mr. chairman. >> aye. >> mr. chairman votes are 11 yeas, seven nays. >> the senator from texas. >> so you don't think i'm trying to pull your leg, there was a complete substitute -- >> they emailed into our office at 4:16 yesterday. >> ok. trust me. my brother in law is a good guy.
i know you have. he has done the prayer at the opening of the session several times. i must say, it has nothing to do with it. one of the things he has found the biggest thrill when he has been been visiting clergymen for the senate is being able to spend the day on the floor, and so many senators, republicans and democrats alike, i yield to senator feinstein. >> thank you very much. i want to thank you for allowing me to hold the hearing. i want to report to you that we
heard from one bereft and grieving father, who lost a precious son at sandy hook. we heard from the trauma surgeon there, who took care of their bodies. and talk about what these weapons, what the bullets do when they explode inside the body. we heard from the head of the united states conference of mayors, mayor nutter of baltimore -- excuse me, philadelphia, who assured us of their support. we heard from chief lynn of baltimore, who assured us that support of the chiefs, talked about his city. i want to acknowledge the presence of chief johnson, baltimore county police department here. we had a demonstration of a slide fire stock placed in a art-15 -- n a r-15, which to
alternate the gun between -- ar- 15, it was able to alternate the gun between automatic and semiautomatic fire. i have been very concerned, because the calls have been coming in as if this is some kind of wild eyed scheme. it is not. every single poll that has been done in the united states has shown that a majority of people favor this legislation. we have endorsements from virtually every religious organization, every medical organization. mayors, police, women's movement, supporting this legislation. and yet it is as if we have a minority, unsubstantial piece of legislation, whether it is a mayorspkins pa poll, against illegal guns, 81%.
it has been a very hard road. secondly, the rest in the argument by the opposition that this measure is unconstitutional. i do believe it is not unconstitutional. it is basically formed from the prior legislation, legislation which survived tests in the force, -- fourth, sixth, ninth and d.c. circuits. no assault weapons legislation statewide in this country ever has been found unconstitutional. the heller decision clearly stated -- the rights secured by the second amendment is not unlimited. quote, dangerous and unusual weapons could be prohibited. since heller, state assault weapons, as i said, have been upheld. no court i'm aware of has found an assault weapons ban to be
unconstitutional. over 50 distinguished constitutional law professors, including conservatives and libertarians from our nation leading law schools, including yale and chicago, shined a statement -- signed a statement affirming that accounts that a -- statement affirming that an assault weapons ban is constitutional. i went to acknowledge the long- standing support of the man who presented the ban in the house of representatives. the distinguished senator from new york, i want to point out that senator durbin's support and the committee was really strong and appreciated. i want to thank virtually all of the other cosponsors in this room. i want to just point out, that i carefully watched senator delve in fall -- lumen fall, excuse me. -- bloomenthal, excuse me.
and senator murphy, too. his representation of that deeply affected community and connecticut. i want you to know, i have my deepest respect that goes to you for what has been a very hard venture. i'm particularly grateful for your support of this legislation. what does this legislation do? it bans a specific assault weapons by name, 157. it protects the rights of gun owners to possess weapons for legitimate hunting and sporting and defense uses. it excludes many more weapons by make and model, over 2000 of them. it grandfathers all present weapons. if they are transferred, it subjects the transferee to a background test. it does not require registration. that applies military characteristics test to judge
future weapons to prevent gun manufacturers from invading the ban by simply changing the name of the weapon. or its physical characteristics. we tried to learn from the last bill, and refine this bill to avoid the problems of gun manufacturer simply getting around the bill. the features that we use were originally developed for military weapons, for one reason. to make the weapon more effective and efficient. killing people in combat situations. as chief flynn of the milwaukee police department testified last week, and i quote, assault weapons are built to inflict violence against humans. their military characteristics are not cosmetic in nature. these weapons are designed for combat. i have watched even police department's get out guns.
in the nine years i was mayor of san francisco, we started out with police issue being a .38 caliber revolver. we have seen it escalate, we have seen shotguns being removed from squad cars and being replaced with assault weapons. why? because of an increasingly armed criminal element that police often have to go up against. i watched as the los angeles police department had to break into a gun store to take weapons to be able to counter what was going up against them following a robbery in los angeles. i don't know why anyone would object to drying up the supply of these weapons over time. they are not good hunting weapons. many states have limits on the number of bullets but can be on a clip.
-- that can be on a clip. who is going to respect a hunter with a 30 round clip and assault weapon going after a direceer? i would not. the intention of this is to dry up the supply over time. while homicides in general are down in this country, mass killings are not. the fact is that these assault weapons have a great attraction for grievance killers, the people that go into law offices, as they did in separate cisco, and shoot down 14 people -- san francisco, and shoot down 14 people. the man he went into an or raw theater. we have seen it in universities -- the man who went into and aurora theater. we have seen it in universities. the time has come to step up and ban these weapons. the other important part of this
bill is to ban large capacity ammunition feeding devices. those that hold over 10 rounds. we have federal regulations and state laws that prohibit hunting ducks with more than three rounds, and yet it is legal to hunt humans with 15 round, 30 round, even 150 round magazines. limiting magazine capacity is critical, because it is when a criminal, a drug dealer, a deranged individual has to pause to change magazines and reload the the police or brave bystanders have the opportunity to take that individual down. we saw this scenario happen in tucson, arizona. a madman who shot our former colleague, gabby giffords, was taken down when he had to change magazines. my view is, how could i stand
by and see this carnage go on? members, this is not going to stop. it is going to continue on. we have a chance to do something about it. i cannot tell you how much -- i was mayor of san francisco. i walked into places and saw the carnage. at that time, i really dedicated the rest of my life to doing something about it. this is not opportunity. i want to thank those who are with me. i don't know that i can convince those who are not, but i intend to keep trying. thank you, mr. chairman. >> do you have any amendment to your amendment? >> i do not. >> are there amendments to
senator feinstein's bill? >> sorry, i was -- i appreciate senator feinstein's sincerity. i expressed that three or four times. she wonders whether i appreciate your sincerity or not. -- her sincere it you're not. this is an important issue for her for 20 years. -- her sincerity or not. this is an important issue for her for 20 years. we have to feel for the victims of newtown. but there are other parents whose children were killed to mourn the loss of their loved ones no less, and yet feel differently about the way congress should respond. on tuesday i spoke to the father of james, who was one of the victims.
he describes how no one should have to endure what he has endured, and no one should. he wrote, quote, i can understand where knee-jerk reactions come from to ensure never again. i caution that we employ common sense and do not hand over any liberty which is protected by the constitution. and of code. -- end of quote. i agree. we continue to wait for the justice department's constitutional analysis of the bill, despite statements at two hearings on this matter. i have yet to see an opinion from the department arguing that this bill is constitutional. i appreciate the input of other scholars who have offered their
opinions as witnesses. the justice department has, or should have, a different role in providing us with a constitutional analysis. i go back to james's father, saying the debate should not be about controlling guns, but controlling people who cannot control themselves, like people with mental illness and felonies. he favors making sure people can find their moral compass, and parents raise their children to know right from wrong and not expose them to violence. i agree with him on this point. then he writes, quote, for those who tell me that my son and 25 others were killed that day with an assault weapon, i challenge them to consider, end of his quote, other important factors. he says that assault weapons, quote, are not a threat to our safety, end of quote, and he's
very focus ready on improving mental health services. he also opposes the limit on magazine compass its.-- capacities. he asks, quote, with 250 million guns in the united states, how are you going to make me safer by reducing new magazines to one, five or 10 rounds? question mark. he continues to say, you will not increase my safety, on-- only obstruct me from protecting myself from criminals who have them, end of quote. he survived this terrible owe deal and to make the -- ordeal and to make the terrible statements he made.-- and to a make teh she statements he made. his words, difficult to write, i'm sure, are an important viewpoint that we should consider. this is especially true when the
constitutional concerns about this legislation that arrive in light of the heller decision. i continue to believe that this legislation is flawed under the second supreme court second amendment cases. given those flaws, i oppose the legislation. thank you. i yield the floor. >> thank you very much. i'll try to go back and forth here. anybody seeking -- >> mr. chairman. >> senator blumenthal. >> i want to begin by thanking the chairman for his leadership on the illegal traffic -- >> is your microphone on? >> i want to begin by thanking the chairman for his leadership on the illegal trafficking bill and commend him and my fellow co-sponsors and thank senator feinstein for her very kind comments but most especially for her leadership on this bill. the plain, simple, blunt fact is that some, if not all of the
beautiful children who perished that day in newtown, along with great educators who gave their lives trying to save those children, might well be alive today if this ban had been in effect, a ban on these military- style assault weapons and the high-capacity magazines. as senator feinstein has already told the committee, we heard testimony from captain mark kelly who recounted what happened in tucson that day when the shooter had to change magazine, and christina taylor, the 9-year-old who perished that day from the 13th bullet fired probably would be alive if the magazine used by the shooter had been limited to 10 rounds. the same is true in newtown
where children were able to escape because the shooter had to change magazines on that day. more than 10 children are alive today because of his need to change magazines. and more would be if his magazine had been limited to 10 rounds, as our legislation would do. so i recognize that there are concerns about it. we've heard them. the overwhelming majority of the american people are in favor of this legislation, and the opponents fail to reflect the concern that goes beyond newtown but certainly newtown is a call to action. it has created a sense of urgency that americans feel and i hope the committee will reflect that sense of urgency in approving this legislation. >> mr. chairman. >> thank you, mr. chairman. mr. chairman, i'd like to start by
saying i agree with senator grassley that sometimes congress tries to impose from washington, d.c., a one-size-fits-all proposed solution that really is best left to localities and states. it's become clear to me, if it wasn't clear before, there are cultural differences in america between those people who've grown up with guns, they know how to use them, they're comfortable with them. they use them safely for hunting or recreation or self-defense. and then there are other people who are scared by guns because they've never been around one. and perhaps they live in an urban area where the only gun they ever see or hear of is one in the hands of someone committing a crime. so i think the -- first of all, i would say at an attempt to legislate for the entire united states in a one-size-fits-all
proposal is a mistake, and i would say that this is not a ban on weapons. the senator from california, who i have great admiration and respect and affection for, acknowledged that this legislation does nothing to deal with the fact that many of these weapons, which will now be outlawed prospectively, are already in the hands of american citizens, law-abiding american citizens. so is it not a ban. it also is not -- what it does impact are semiautomatic rifles. now, you can call it an assault weapon because it looks for cosmetic purposes it looks scary to people who are not familiar with them, but the fact of the matter is these are semiautomatic rifles and this bill does nothing to deal with semiautomatic handguns.
i'm not advocating it should. i'm just pointing out that it is not going to achieve the goals that the sponsors -- the sponsors believe it will. i believe one of the biggest problems we have in the country is the lack of enforcement by the department of justice of current laws. i mean, we all support keeping straw purchasers from buying weapons and directing them to people who can't legally own them or possess them. we all believe that mental health ought to be a focus of our efforts here, and this bill does nothing to deal with that. and we all wonder why the department of justice won't prosecute people who lie on background checks. well, i think they told us because they don't deem them sufficient priority to do so, but i guess we ought to ask the question -- why -- what might we
be able to do to enforce current laws as opposed to passing new laws? of course, congress and president clinton tried a so- called assault weapons ban. we have hindsight as well as research to examine the lackluster results of that decade-long experiment. according to the department of justice's own study, it was completely ineffectual in reducing murder or violent crime rates. now, some have talked about this 1997 study funded by the justice department and claimed that it reduced gun murders by 6.7%. but the problem with that claim is the study reveals in the next sentence how weak the evidence really was. the authors said in the next sentence, however, the evidence is not strong enough for us to
conclude there was any meaningful effect, i.e., the effect was different from zero. so are we really going to pass another law that will not -- that will have zero effect and pat ourselves on the back and say we accomplished something wonderful? well, we tried this experiment once and it failed and i think it promotes symbolism over seriousness to repeat that mistake. a real concern of mine is that the efforts to enact this gun ban are distracting congress from working on areas that i believe there is a broad consensus in keeping deranged mad men from buying guns. if there was a common thread in the virginia tech, tucson, aurora and newtown massacres, it was the mental illness of the shooter. this bill does nothing to deal with that. the commonality is not the type of guns used.
some use pistols, some use rifles and at least two shotguns were found at the scene of these crimes. the common thread was mental illness. no one wants disturbed young men or women, for that matter, to have access to firearms. unfortunately, this legislation focuses not only the perilous-- not on the perilous intersection of guns but on cosmetic features of certain firearms. we should refocus our effort to make sure the current background check works to scene out the dangerously mentally ill. -- screen out the dangerously mental ill. now, i'm encouraged by some, including senator graham, have proposed legislation to patch the holes in the background check system that enable the mentally ill to buy guns. that's the type of legislation that would bring a consensus and would be a real solution to a real problem. but sadly we seem to be focused
on window dressing and risk putting symbolism over substance. >> is there further discussion? >> mr. chairman. hello. >> senator graham. >> thank you. i apologize for being late. we're having a hearing on africom. in armed services. to my colleagues, there seems to be some bipartisanship emerging on certain aspects of the problem. senator flake, begich and pryor, we've come together to try to fix a problem. i think everyone would agree needs to be fixed. there is a young lady who was a paranoid schizophrenic, tragic figure in many ways, and in 2005 in south carolina she was indicted, arrested and indicted for threatening the life of the president of the united states and members of congress. very disturbed young lady.
she pled guilty -- not guilty by reason of insanity. the federal court ordered her into treatment. she went through a pretty laborious process, found incompetent to stand trial, plead guilty by reason of insanity. the court ordered mental health treatment in a confined environment. she was eventually released. she went to south carolina in february of this year and was able to buy a gun. she passed the background check. the system did not record the fact that she'd been adjudicated, mentally incompetent and dangerous to herself and others. she bought a .22 caliber pistol. went into the administrator's office, pulled the gun out and it did not fire. thank god. she's been arrested and she
needs a lot of help. there is an effort in a bipartisan way to make sure adjudications like that get into the background system. there are over 14,000, i've been told, adjudications in south carolina of people a danger to themselves and an incompetent court process that's not entered into the federal system and my state is trying to fix that problem and i hope they're successful in south carolina of entering these cases into the federal background check system. and there are some things that senator schumer is doing and many others that may bear fruit. so keep trying. but as to the assault ban, i know that senator feinstein has been consistent. she's sincere and she has the courage of her convictions and what more could you ask? that is a compliment to her. my belief is that the solution being proposed has constitutional problems and doesn't really solve the problem.
2.5% of the murders committed in 2011 involve rifles. there are more people killed with bare hands than that. the assault weapon, when it's misused, is a tragedy. when any gun is misused. i think a lot of us agree that mentally unstable people, felons shouldn't have any gun with any bullet, and sometimes the law- abiding citizen, at least in my view, may need more than 10 bullets given what they may face in the real world as it is. so my objections are that this doesn't really fix the problem and that it didn't work before. it won't work now, but since then there's been a supreme court case called the heller case. it has a three-part test. second amendment protects individual right to possess a firearm for traditionally lawful purposes such as self-defense. and to my colleagues, vice president biden, a dear friend of all of us, has this belief
that a double barrel shotgun is the best way to defend one's self if there is a lawless environment and mobs come through your house. he told his wife, if you have a problem, go in the back yard and fire two blasts. that's not an unreasonable thing. once you shoot twice you don't have more bullets. you better take shells with you in case they don't run away. when the law and order has broken down, if there is a tornado, earthquake, cyberattack, if the power goes down and the dams break and pollutants are released in the air and the law enforcement is not able to respond and people are lawless -- i have an ar-15. i am not going to do anything illegal with it. i think that is better in that environment than a double-barrel shotgun because it has more than two bullets. it is an intimidating gun. i think a house is safer than a double-barrel shotgun.
you can disagree. i think what i say makes sense, in my mind is not irrational. common use at the time, there are more than four million ar- 15's in circulation. i happen to have one of them. i say that's common use. dangerous and unusual. absolutely an ar-15 misused is dangerous almost like any other gun, but i would not say it's an unusual weapon since so many people have decided to buy the weapon. so i will be voting against the legislation. i didn't think it worked before. i don't think it will work now. i think it misses the mark of what the real problem is, and after heller, i really doubt the constitutionality -- and i'm very disappointed that our attorney general couldn't render an opinion on this. so thank you, mr. chairman, for allowing me to speak. >> thank you.
senator grassley's returning just about a minute. and we're going to -- he has an amendment. following normal procedure, if there is not an amendment here, we will yield at that time to senator grassley, ranking member, to bring up his amendment. senator coons, you wish to say something first. >> while we're waiting for senator grassley to return, i want to add a few comments. mr. chairman, i'm grateful for your leadership and to the members of this committee for their conversation. i was encouraged by some comments i heard earlier in the discussion about s-- s. 54, the stop illegal firearms trafficking act, that led me there is bipartisanship here. enforcing laws on the books and coming together in stopping trafficking and it is my hope as these bills are not taken up by this committee but as they move to the floor that we will not
stop listening to each other and trying to find ways to focus and to improve them. i've gotten a great deal of input from my home state of delaware on the issues of the bills that are in front of us today. it's been passionate and it's been diverse. and as senator cornyn mentioned, there are clearly differences of culture and region of those who've grown up with and are comfortable with hunting and firearms, whether it's for self- defense and sporting activities and those who are not. i've gotten very strong input from life-long friends, leaders in law enforcement, from pediatricians, from neighbors and from family. and i'll tell you there is a lot of misconceptions about what these bills do. a number of law enforcement leaders in my community express strong opposition to this bill, to s. 150, based on the mistaken impression in a it did not have an exception for law enforcement, for current or retired. it does. i think that's an important provision of the bill. i've heard directly from our vice president, from my governor and from senator feinstein, whom
i respect deeply for her commitment to doing everything we possibly can to reduce the availability of weapons that can be used to kill and harm. i think we have a number of important pieces of legislation here that will strengthen background checks that will fight gun trafficking. i think this is just one more in what needs to be a broad and searching effort to find the right balance and to find the right solution. and so, although i think none of these bills is perfect, all of them deserve some further consideration. we cannot let the perfect be the enemy of the good. as someone who has known parents who lost children, neighbors who've lost family members in gun violence, i intend to vote for this bill in this committee today. thank you. >> senator grassley. the comment was made about support from newtown and i'd like to put a number of testimonials that have come in indicating support from newtown.
i'd also like to put in the statement from the united states attorney that testified that in a 2004 follow-up report to the national institute of justice, the same researchers concluded that the use in crimes of assault weapons subject to the 1994 ban declined by more than 2/3 in the first nine years the ban was in effect. and also a statement from professor tribe, if i may. >> without objection, that will be part of the record. senator, hold just a moment unless you want to yield to senator lee. >> let's yield to senator lee. >> ok. senator lee. and for scheduling purposes, you might -- there is a classified matter that is going to require senator grassley and i and a couple other members of the
senate to be at and as a result we will recess at 11:45 subject to the call of the chair which may bring us back today or tomorrow. we'll see. but just so you know. >> i thank you, mr. chairman. just want to make a brief statement about some concerns i have about this legislation. all of us are devastated by the recent acts of violence, particularly mass violence, and every one of us would choose if we could to find any way we can to reduce incidents of violence like those. i am concerned about this legislation for a couple of reasons. number one, i would worry about giving the american people the false impression that we can fix this problem through federal legislation, especially in light of our experience with past similar measures that have proven unsuccessful in bringing an end to this type of violence or even bringing about any
significant statistically reduction in it. secondly, and in some ways even more importantly, we have to remember the interest of the law-abiding. there are some people in this country that are probably not going to comply with a lot of laws, no matter what they say. there's another group of people in this country that will typically abide by the law regardless of what the law says. fortunately, we in america are surrounded by people, the majority of whom fit into the latter category. it's those people that i think we need to look out for from time to time. in light of those people, the supreme court of the united states has established the standard in the heller case pursuant to which it said people have a second amendment right to possess a firearm that is typically possessed by law- abiding people for lawful purposes. there are, as i understand it, about four million ar-15's in this country. there are even more other weapons that would likewise fall into a ban like this one.
to my knowledge, the overwhelming majority of those weapons are possessed by law- abiding people and they are used for law-abiding purposes, hunting, target practice, self- defense and the like. i have yet to be convinced that the proponents of this legislation have met their heavy burden of establishing that this law would do more harm than good and that the -- any good it might do would offset these interests of these law-abiding citizens. for these reasons i can't support this legislation. >> thank you. i know that senator grassley wants me to finish this part of the agenda before we have to break and, senator grassley, you have an amendment. >> i do. it's alb-13190, requiring the attorney general to submit an annual report to congress dealing a number of statistics regarding the department's prosecution of violence -- violation of federal firearms law.
the amendment would require the attorney general to provide information related to cases presented to the department from prosecution, federal, state and local, for violation of gun laws. it also requires information on cases where the department failed to file charges based upon these referrals. it requires information why cases were not charged, whether indictments are pending, whether plea agreements were entered, whether the defendant plead guilty or was found guilty and what -- pled guilty or was found guilty and what charges. this report is necessary, so i want to emphasize, necessary given the concern we heard in all three hearings about the lack of prosecutions under the current laws. example, it was discussed at the subcommittee hearing over 76,000
individuals were denied firearms under background checks and yet only 62 were prosecuted. this argument, the argument we heard from the department was that nearly impossible to prosecute these individuals because penalties are too low and violations too hard to prove. i think this is too simple of an argument, but understand some of the concerns. however, even if we do pass any of the bills on the markup agenda today and it becomes law, we need to ensure they are enforced. if we do not obtain detailed information about how the department enforces or fails to enforce, we know -- won't know if new legislation works. so this is a necessary step to ensure that changes in federal laws have a desired impact. now i understand the justice department strongly opposes. their concern is it intrudes into the prosecutorial
decisionmaking. and it burdens them with reports that detract from prosecution -- prosecuting criminals. these are arguments that we hear all the time from the department and many other agencies that don't want congress overseeing them. of course i don't buy it and members shouldn't simply take their word for it. reports like this wouldn't be necessary if the department answered our letters and responded to our questions about oversight and particularly if they did it at hearings. just as an example, senator whitehouse and i pointed out to the attorney general yesterday that we still await answers to questions from the last oversight hearing we had with the attorney general in june of last year. with a response time like that, we may never know how the department's working. an annual report will require the department to provide us
data regularly and likely faster than if we ask the attorney general himself. so i urge my colleagues to support this amendment so we can collect data. we need to ensure the department prosecute the laws on the books. i'd like to have a roll call vote please. >> thank you very much, mr. chairman. this amendment is a big broad amendment. it seeks to determine whether a decision has been made to charge an individual with a firearm's violations. in cases where no charge was made. a description of why no charge was filed. whether an indictment, information or other charge has been brought against any person. whether in any case that's charged, whether a firearm violation is alleged. whether in any case where a firearms violation is alleged, a plea agreement has been entered into, and whether any plea agreement resulted in a firearms conviction. it also includes in any case
where there is no firearms conviction resulted, identification of the charges for which the individual did plead guilty. in any case not alleging a violation of firearm laws, the nature of the other charges brought and the result of any trial. now, having said that, i think the concern of this is a good-- kernel of this is a good thing and i think we -- i think the kernel of this is a good thing and i think we can get this established. there are lots of these violations, some 70,000. and it's an overwhelming task. i'd offer, senator, and, you know, i think my word, i hope you think my word means something, to work with you and try to work down to that kernel so we get something that's doable. senator graham had this discussion. i understand the point.
i think we should have something. this is huge and broad, and i think that's why the justice opposes it. >> the senator asked for a roll call vote. senator durbin. >> i want to speak. in the southerly district of illinois, based in the st. clair county area, the u.s. attorney steve wigginton, is faced with a situation that's troubling. my hometown, where i was born, east st. louis, illinois, has a violent crime rate and murder rate 18 times the national average. 18 times the national average. the carnage that goes on in that small town with the misuse of firearms is incredible. and they are doing everything they can to deal with it. because of budget cutbacks that we have imposed in congress, it's now reached the point where he cannot fill vacancies when u.s. attorneys retire or resign. what they do is solicit those who are willing to volunteer
without any pay to serve as an assistant u.s. attorney in the southern district of illinois and some are coming forward to do it. it's an indication of the workload they face and the desperate situation they're in to try to take control of what is a violent, terrible thing, menacing a lot of innocent people. senator grassley, this is an incredible amount of paperwork which you are asking for. for every possible case, they are required to fill voluminous paperwork. they will be filing forms with the department of justice. i think we know what the problem is here. this is a paperwork offense under the current law. we want to make it a serious offense. that's why some of the changes we're considering today will make a difference. i really think senator feinstein is right. let's get down to the root
problem of the, regular reporting, but please don't impose this paperwork requirement on many offices that are struggling to survive. >> i disagree with you. there is such a big gap between prosecution and violation of the laws. we got to know why these are not being prosecuted. and if they don't prosecute them, they ought to be telling us why they don't prosecute them. i think this report answers those questions and will help fill the gap and i'll bet we'll get more prosecution. >> mr. chairman. >> roll call. >> i'm actually going to -- >> i don't want to cut anybody off. i know we will be recessing -- >> i'll put it on the record later. >> i would like to get this bill finished before we do. does the senator wish to -- >> i'll put it on the record later if you're concerned about time. >> roll call vote. >> ms. feinstein? >> no. >> mr. durbin, mr.
whitewhite house, ms. klobuchar, mr. franken. >> no. >> mr. coons. >> no. >> mr. blumenthal? >> no. >> ms. hirono. >> no. >> mr. grassley. >> aye. >> mr. hatch. >> aye. >> mr. sessions. >> aye. >> mr. graham. >> aye per proxy. >> aye. >> mr. lee. >> aye. >> mr. cruz. >> aye. >> mr. flake. >> aye by proxy. >> mr. chairman. >> no. >> can i offer another amendment? >> i'll work with you. >> nine yeas, nine nays. >> then the amendment fails. >> senator feinstein does work with me and with other people of the committee and i hope we can work out something to accomplish some of the goals i want to accomplish. this is my last amendment. i don't -- do we have -- you have an amendment.
i'll go through mine very fast. i hope we can vote on this bill today and get this behind us. this is amendment alb-13193, requiring the director of n.i.j. to conduct a study to examine the impact of violent adult theme video games may have on mass shootings. this amendment is not about blaming an industry for the horrific acts of mass shooters. it simply examines the role that violent games may play in recent mass shootings. according to media reports, the perpetrators of mass shooting in aurora, newtown, were both avid players of violent video games. the norway mass shooter who killed 77 went so far as to describe in his manifesto how he utilized video games to train for his attack. this is troubling given the
number of these games that are sold annually in the united states and around the world. our video game -- one video game called "call of duty: modern warfare 2," 22 million copies sold worldwide where the player of the game serves as an undercover operative. in his role, the player guides the player as part of a terror attack at a russian airport. the player takes part as a team shooter, guns down innocent civilians waiting in an airport. well, my amendment is alb-13141. i ask consent to place these pictures in the record that we have here. and i'm going to put the rest of the statement in the record.
i think everybody knows what i'm talking about, and i know that senator coons has an amendment to my amendment or some sort of an amendment. i ask you to support his amendment as well. >> senator coons. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i'd like to offer a second- degree amendment. i believe what we're asking for is 13141, calling for a study specifically focused on violent video games. and my second-degree amendment focuses on the fact that i believe there is a very wide range of possible causes of mass casualty incidents. i want to specifically amend my second-degree amendment as has been circulated at 13 so that it specifically says depictions of violence in the video game, media and entertainment industries. so it's clear i recognize the desirability of considering violent video games. it lists a whole series of factors for this n.i.j.
study, factors that is childhood neglect, bullying which has been cited by my colleagues, availability of mental health services and others. i will not take the time to go through them all. >> my understanding is the senator will accept your second degree? >> yes. >> without objection, the senator from iowa's amendment is amended with the amendment of the senator from delaware. those in favor of the amendment, as amended, signify by saying aye. opposed. the ayes appear to have it. the ayes do have it. are there further amendments? >> senator cornyn i think has our last amendment. >> senator cornyn. >> well, actually i have several amendments but i want to draw my colleagues' attention to senator feinstein's -- the exception in her legislation for gun ban for certain classes of americans, namely the retired law enforcement officers.
i think any exception to the ban is remarkable concession by the authors and co-sponsors of the bill. that's because bills' sponsors have long declared that so- called assault weapons are purely offensive in nature as in designed for killing. hence the name assault weapon. but in fact i believe this exception concedes that there are at least some americans who should be allowed to possess these weapons for purposes of defending themselves, their families and their communities. so i would ask my colleagues, why should this exception be limited only to retired law enforcement officers?
is it because we believe they have some special competency and training to use these weapons to defend themselves and others, or is it because we think they and their families are worthy of special protection? i want to be clear. i think every law-abiding american has a right to choose how best to defend themselves and their families. that's why i strongly oppose this legislation. i wholeheartedly agree with the authors and the sponsors of this legislation that the weapons this bill would ban can and are used lawfully for self-and family defense. so the purpose of the amendments, and i have a number of them that i will offer, is to highlight the dangers of a blanket ban and illustrate why we shouldn't prevent law-abiding citizens from owning self- defense weapons. if you don't believe that the guns banned by this bill can be used lawfully for self-defense, then you should be offering an amendment to strike the exception for retired law enforcement. but of course i don't expect that. >> does the senator have an amendment he wishes to call up? >> i would like to call up 13115.
>> 13115 is before us. >> in amendment, mr. chairman, would allow members of the armed forces and veterans to obtain and possess the self- defense weapons prohibited by this legislation. members and veterans of the armed forces are the most highly trained and qualified individuals to own these weapons for self-defense purposes. we should think long and hard before disarming these heroes, preventing them from protecting their families and their communities. >> senator feinstein. >> if i understand this, this adds an exemption of retired military. as i understand our bill, no
issue has arose in the regard during the 10 years the ban was in effect and what we did in the other bill was exempt possession by the united states or a department or agency of the united states. so that included active military. the problem with expanding this is that, you know, with the advent of ptsd, which i think is a new phenomenon as a product of the iraq war, it's not clear how the seller or transfer of a firearm covered by this bill would verify that an individual was a member or veteran and there was no impairment of that individual with respect to having a weapon like this. so, you know, i would be happy to sit down with you again and see if we can work something out. i think we have to -- if you're going to do this, find a way that veterans who are
incapacitated for one reason or another mentally, don't have access to this kind of weapon. >> i would suggest this may be one that should be worked on. as the senator from california knows, i have some problems with her overall legislation but i'm going to vote for it to get the matter out so it's just not those of us in this room will get a chance to talk about it or act on it but the whole senate, all 100 of us. so on the amendment, the clerk will call the roll. >> mr. chairman, ptsd suffers are already prohibited by law. and i think it's a mistake to paint so broadly as to say any active duty military or veterans can't use these kinds of weapons or any other lawful weapons for self-defense.
and certainly i wouldn't want to suggest that we think the people who served in the military all suffer from some debilitating illness that would prohibit them from being able to -- >> that suggestion has not been made by anybody on either side of the aisle here. and the clerk will call the roll. >> mrs. feinstein. >> no. >> mr. schumer? >> no. >> mr. durbin. >> no. >> mr. whitehouse. >> no. >> mr. klobuchar. >> no. >> mr. franken. >> no. >> mr. coons. >> yes. >> ms. hirono. mr. grassley. >> aye. >> mr. hatch. >> aye. >> mr. sessions. >> aye by proxy. >> mr. cornyn. >> aye. >> mr. lee. >> aye. >> mr. cruz. >> aye. >> mr. flake. >> aye. >> mr. chairman. >> no. >> mr. chairman, nine yeas, nine nays. senator grassley.
>> can i ask, is it going to be possible to get this done before the chairman and i go for a briefing, like how many more -- >> don't believe so. i don't know about your schedule, but i have a number of other amendments. so i'd be happy to -- >> in that case, we will -- we're not going to be able to finish, and because of the -- senator grassley or senator fine tine and i are able to talk about the nature of this briefing, so we will -- we will recess subject to the call of the chair, but -- and we will get this bill completed. i appreciate the honesty of the senator from texas' answers. we stand recess subject to the call.
>> coming up on c-span, "newsmakers" with sander levin, followed by homeland security secretary janet napolitano. later, q&a with nobel prize winner jody williams. tomorrow on c-span, the senior advocacy group aarp will talk about federal benefits and how changes in cost of living might affect social security recipients, including veterans, americans with disabilities, and people with very low incomes. live coverage begins at 10:00 a.m. eastern here on c-span. also live, later at noon eastern, the czech republic debt crisis.
>> i believe that united states has many fantastic qualities. i do believe that maybe many people have the possibility of pulling themselves up by the bootstraps. i think every year that is less and less and less probable. the united states especially in its foreign-policy, which is what i worked on for years and years, is not the great nation. it is an interventionist, it is extremely aggressive militarily. we mess with other people's politics in ways that i can't imagine americans tolerating. imagine if some country invaded us to bring their system of government, the way we did in iraq. can you imagine americans sitting there and thinking that is ok? in this country,