Nutter Calls on Congress to Act Quickly on Legislation to Reduce Gun Violence
Laura DeKoven Waxman
January 28, 2013
In an unusual and emotional January 16 hearing, members of the Democratic Steering and Policy Committee heard from four witnesses who have witnessed the effects of gun violence firsthand. Among them was Conference of Mayors President Philadelphia Mayor Michael A. Nutter. The other witnesses were Dr. Janet Robinson, Superintendent of Schools, in Newtown (CT); Dr. Emily Nottingham, Mother of Gabe Zimmerman, an aide to Congresswoman Gabby Giffords who was killed in the shooting in Tucson two years ago; and Chaska (MN) Police Chief Scott Knight.
Over 60 members of Congress were in attendance, including New York Representative Carolyn McCarthy who entered politics after her husband was killed and son severely injured in a shooting which occurred on the Long Island Railroad in 1993. McCarthy has been a proponent of gun safety legislation since she came to Congress commented that, “This is the first time since Clinton was President that we have hope that we can do something to save lives.” She said that it is important to do so not just because of mass shootings, but because of the shootings which occur every day in this country.
As she opened the hearing, Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (CA) commented that, “Earlier this month, shortly after Newtown, all members of Congress took an oath to protect and defend the Constitution and the American people. To protect and defend: that is our first responsibility. Today, leaders of the House Democratic Caucus have come together to fulfill that duty, to confront the challenge of gun violence in our society, to act to ensure the safety and security of our communities.”
Nutter told the members that, “You make me very proud to have the opportunity to be with you and that you have taken the time to discuss these issues. I am sad at the deaths which occurred in Tucson and Newtown, but angry that we have made it so easy for this to happen.” Nutter referenced the Conference of Mayors open letter to the President and Congress sent just three days after the shooting in Newtown occurred and urged Congress to act quickly to:
- Enact legislation to ban assault weapons and other high-capacity magazines being prepared by Senator Dianne Feinstein and others;
- Strengthen the national background check system and eliminate loopholes in it;
- Strengthen the penalties for straw purchases of guns.
The hearing occurred just hours after the President and Vice President released the Administration’s plan to reduce gun violence. Nutter told the Committee that the Administration had listened closely to recommendations which the Conference of Mayors offered. “The nation’s mayors urge the Congress to give that report full consideration and to move forward on the legislative action which it requires,” he said.