Sandy Hook father calls for change at hearing: 'I'm here to speak up for my son'


Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) asked U.S. Attorney John Walsh of Colorado and Milwaukee Police Chief Edward Flynn how often they prosecuted misconduct in background checks for firearm sales.

“If we’re going to expand background checks, we ought to start enforcing the laws that are on the books,” Graham said.

Flynn said he didn’t know if he had referred any cases for prosecution, but took issue with Graham’s line of questioning as the two men shouted over one another.

“We make 2,000 gun cases a year, we’re not paper chasers,” Flynn said. “We don’t chase paper, we chase hard criminals!”

The hearing room erupted in cheers, prompting Feinstein to ask Graham and Flynn to remain civil and for observers to remain quiet. Flynn got another round of applause later in the hearing for comparing the assault weapons ban to the restrictions on air travel after 9/11, which he says took the weapons of airplanes out of the hands of terrorists.

Feinstein opened the hearing by making the case for a renewal of the assault weapons ban. With the faces of the victims of the mass shooting in Newtown, Conn., displayed behind her, Feinstein said increased restrictions on military-style assault weapons are needed to prevent further tragedies.

“Sadly, [Newtown] is not an anomaly,” Feinstein said. “We have witnessed an increased number of these mass killings. The one common thread running through these mass shootings ... is that the gunman used a military-style semi-automatic assault weapon or a large capacity magazine to inflict unspeakable terror.” Witnesses at the hearing included Neil Heslin, the father of one of the young victims in Newtown, and an emergency medical services professional who arrived at the scene of the massacre.

“Jesse was brutally murdered at Sandy Hook school,” Heslin said through tears. “He was six and a half years old. The day he was born was the happiest day of my life. The saddest day of my life was December 14, the worst day of my life.”

Heslin said he fully supports the Second Amendment and is himself a gun owner, but said anyone who argues they need an AR-15 — the kind of gun used to kill 26 in Newtown — for self-defense is being “dishonest.”

For more on the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, click here.