Wednesday’s Senate hearing on gun violence has been generally polite and subdued. One of the day’s only sharp-edged moments came when Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) confronted National Rifle Association Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre over LaPierre’s assertion that expanding background checks on gun buyers would not work.
Moments earlier, LaPierre had gone on his first extended riff of the day, telling senators that, listening to their hearing, he was struck by “how little it has to do with making our kids safe.”
“You’re never going to get criminals to go through universal background checks,” LaPierre said. Instead, he added, “We’re going to make all those law-abiding people go through the system, and then we’re not going to prosecute people if they do go through them [and make false statements].”
LaPierre was stopped by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), the judiciary committee chairman. As it happened, Durbin — an outspoken supporter of tighter gun laws — had the floor next.
“Mr. LaPierre, that’s the point,” Durbin said, meaning that the background checks would, in theory, stop the criminals that sought to pass them. “You missed the point.”
There was a small amount of applause in the room, from a section of the audience that had applauded earlier calls for gun control. “There will be order,” Leahy said, quieting the room.