Mark Kelly, NRA’s Wayne LaPierre to testify at Senate gun violence hearing

January 25, 2013

Witnesses at the first Senate hearing on gun violence since the Newtown, Conn. school shooting will include a cross-section of advocates for and against more federal legislation to control the sale and manufacturing of certain firearms. But the guest list suggests the panel tilts slightly in favor of those opposed to stricter gun laws.

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Gabrielle Giffords, Mark Kelly (Ross D. Franklin/AP)

The Senate Judiciary Committee announced Friday that Mark Kelly, the husband of former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) -- who was shot and seriously injured in a Jan. 2011 assassination attempt -- and Wayne LaPierre, chief executive officer of the National Rifle Association, will headline a panel of five witnesses.

The other three people invited to testify are Nicholas Johnson, a law professor at Fordham University School of Law; James Johnson, chief of police for Baltimore County, Md. and chairman of the National Law Enforcement Partnership to Prevent Gun Violence; and Gayle Trotter, an attorney and senior fellow at the Independent Women's Forum.

All of the witnesses are planning to attend the hearing, according to committee aides. Booking Kelly and LaPierre on the same committee promise dramatic testimony and exchanges between two of the nation's most high-profile activists on opposing sides of the issue.

LaPierre has led the NRA since 1991 and serves as the group's chief spokesman. Kelly and Giffords are launching an anti-gun violence group that plans to partner with the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg's anti-gun efforts and similar groups.

James Johnson is representing police chiefs and law enforcement organizations "concerned about the unacceptable level of gun violence," according to the NLEPPGV's Web site.

Trotter, who is also a D.C.-based attorney, has written recently in op-eds about how stricter gun laws could adversely harm women, saying recently in The Washington Times that "the Obama administration’s proposals will fail to make Americans safer and, worse still, harm women the most."

Nicholas Johnson's academic research at Fordham focuses on gun issues and the Second Amendment and he is a regular commentator on them, including the  Newtown, Conn. school shooting and last year's shooting of Florida teenager Trayvon Martin. He served as an unpaid trustee with NRA's Civil Rights Defense Fund from at least 1998 to 2004, according to the group's tax records.The nonprofit entity was established by NRA in 1978 to provide legal aid "in court cases establishing legal precedents in favor of gun owners," according to its Web site.

The hearing is Wednesday, Jan. 30 at 10 a.m.

David S. Fallis contributed to this report.

Ed O’Keefe is a congressional reporter with The Washington Post and covered the 2008 and 2012 presidential and congressional elections.
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