WASHINGTON — An Oklahoma woman's defense of her child against intruders became part of the debate over gun control Wednesday during a contentious Senate committee hearing here that also featured a dramatic plea from former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.
One witness at the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing said the case of Blanchard mom Sarah McKinley, who shot and killed a man during a home invasion in 2011, illustrated why guns were “the great equalizer” for women.
That witness, Washington attorney Gayle S. Trotter, later sparred with a Democratic senator about the gun McKinley used.
Giffords, who was shot in the head during an attack that killed six people in Tucson in 2011, made a brief appearance, accompanied by her husband, retired Navy pilot and astronaut Mark Kelly.
Speaking slowly, and acknowledging the difficulty of speech, Giffords said, “Violence is a big problem. Too many children are dying. Too many children. We must do something. It will be hard, but the time is now. You must act. Be bold, be courageous. Americans are counting on you.”
The hearing was prompted by gun control proposals made by President Barack Obama and legislation offered by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., in the wake of the school shootings last month in Newtown, Conn. It focused on the effectiveness of the background check system and banning ownership of some semi-automatic weapons.
Giffords and Kelly recently established a group called Americans for Responsible Solutions. Kelly testified that holes in the law “make a mockery of our background check system.”
Obama and many lawmakers want to extend background checks to gun shows and other private sales, while Feinstein has proposed banning 157 different semi-automatic weapons and magazines that hold more than ten rounds.
Wayne LaPierre, executive vice president and CEO of the National Rifle Association, angered some Democratic senators by dismissing the effectiveness of background checks and certain weapon bans.
“I mean this discussion … I mean I sit here and listen to it and my reaction is how little it has to do with making the country and our kids safe and how much it has to do with this decade-long, or two-decade-long gun ban agenda that we don't even enforce the laws that are on the books.