House holds first gun violence hearing in 8 years, after 1,952 mass shootings


'Finally, we have a Congress willing to prioritize gun violence prevention,' Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action, said.

The new Democratic majority in Congress will not remain silent in the face of the gun violence epidemic facing this country. On Feb. 6, the Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on preventing gun violence, the first hearing on this topic since 2011.

"No longer will Congress remain silent on this issue," Rep. Mike Thompson (D-CA), chair of the Gun Violence Prevention Task Force, said about the hearing. Thompson noted that Republicans prevented hearings on the issue for years, but this is "a new day" and Democrats are determined to get results.

Public sentiment in favor of gun safety legislation has been growing for years, especially after a gunman murdered 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, in December 2012. Since that tragedy, there have been 1,952 mass shooting events in the United States, according to Vox. Yet the GOP-controlled House of Representatives did not hold a single hearing on the issue of gun safety in all that time.

Meanwhile, upwards of 90 percent of Americans support solutions like a background check before people are allowed to purchase a gun. While in power, Republicans refused to lift a finger to prevent mass shooting after mass shooting, despite more than 67,000 gun deaths since Newtown.

But that wait is now over.

"Finally, we have a Congress willing to prioritize gun violence prevention," Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action, said in a statement on the hearing.

The announcement of a hearing comes just a few weeks after Thompson and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi introduced legislation on gun safety and universal background checks. "Finally, with our new majority that ran on helping to prevent gun violence, we will introduce a bipartisan, universal background checks bill," Thompson said at the time.

Gun violence prevention played a major role in the 2018 midterm election. After the February 2018 shooting at Marjory Stoneman High in Parkland, Florida, survivors of the Parkland tragedy organized the March for Our Lives, one of the largest gun safety rallies this country has ever seen. In the aftermath, NRA-backed candidates lost from coast to coast.

"Finally we are going to have hearings on the most elementary proposal, to deny firearms to anyone who cannot pass a universal criminal and mental background check," Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD), a member of the Judiciary Committee, told Shareblue Media. "This is a great day for Congress and for the public safety agenda," he added.

In a statement noting how grateful he is for Congress holding this hearing, John Feinblatt, president of Everytown for Gun Safety, reiterated a critical truth: "background checks save lives."

While Republicans gave their allegiance to lobbyists from the NRA, the new majority is working for the people. And this hearing is only the first of many steps to curtail the scourge of gun violence across the country.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.