Senate Judiciary chairman says he ‘can’t keep up’ with number of mass shootings
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), the No. 2 Democrat in the upper chamber, on Tuesday said he “can’t keep up” with the level of gun violence in the U.S. after two deadly mass shootings in the past week.
Durbin during his opening statement at a committee hearing on gun violence, which was scheduled before last week’s shooting spree at massage parlors in Atlanta, said he had to again amend his statement and questions for witnesses following Monday evening’s deadly attack at a Colorado grocery store.
“I can’t keep up with it,” he said. “I can’t change and amend my opening statement to keep up with it. It just keeps coming at us.”
“We are numb to the numbers,” he continued. “Unless we are personally touched, it’s just another statistic. That has got to stop.”
Durbin then called the two recent mass shootings, which together left a total of 18 people dead, “devastating.”
“These victims and their loved ones are worthy of our thoughts and our prayers, but there’s more that’s required,” he argued.
Durbin explained that as the country faces “a pandemic of coronavirus, we have another epidemic in America called guns.”
“I could ask for a moment of silence for the mass shooting in Boulder last night, and after that is completed I could ask for a moment of silence for the shooting in Atlanta six days ago, and after a minute, I could ask for a moment of silence for the 29 mass shootings that occurred this month in the United States,” he explained.
“But in addition to a moment of silence I would like to ask for a moment of action, a moment of real caring, a moment when we don’t allow others to do what we need to do,” Durbin said. “Prayer leaders have their important place in this, but we are Senate leaders.”
“What are we doing? What are we doing, other than reflecting and praying?” he questioned. “That’s a good starting point, that shouldn’t be our endpoint.”
Senate Jud. Cmte. Chair Durbin at gun violence hearing:
“We face a pandemic of coronavirus. We have another epidemic in America called guns … Prayer leaders have their important place in this. But we are Senate leaders … What are we doing, other than reflecting and praying?” pic.twitter.com/0TyL09kEsJ
— NBC News (@NBCNews) March 23, 2021
Durbin then led other Democrats on the committee in calling for commonsense gun reform, including more stringent background checks required for gun purchases.
Meanwhile, Republicans on the committee, including ranking member Chuck Grassley (Iowa), argued that a spike in crimes has been tied to calls to “defund the police” and that gun violence could be curbed by increased law enforcement training and presence throughout communities, rather than limits on firearms.
The hearing comes the same day Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) vowed to take up measures combating gun violence, adding that lawmakers “have a lot of work to do.”
“The Senate is going to debate and address the epidemic of gun violence in this country,” he said during a floor speech. “I’ve already committed to bringing universal background checks legislation to the floor of the Senate.”
The House passed legislation this month to expand gun background checks, and Schumer has said he would bring it to the floor in the upper chamber, though he faces an obstacle with the 60 votes needed to pass in the Senate unless Democrats are able to nix the filibuster.
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