Congressman Nadler Denounces Hypocrisy of Planned Parenthood Hearings with Gun Violence Epidemic in America

Oct 8, 2015 Issues: Civil Liberties, Civil Rights

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congressman Jerrold Nadler (NY-10), Ranking Member of the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property and the Internet, gave the following statement during the House Judiciary Committee hearings into Planned Parenthood and condemned Republican leadership for their hypocrisy when it comes to a women’s right to choose and the unwillingness to address the epidemic of gun violence in America.

Below is the full statement Rep. Nadler as prepared for delivery to the Judiciary Committee:

“I have heard a lot from my colleagues and the witnesses today about saving lives.  After 23 years in Congress, I am still shocked by the hypocrisy from my friends on the other side of the aisle.

“Since 2013, there have been over 900 mass shootings across the country, including 300 mass shootings in 2015 – that is an average of more than one mass shooting every day this year.  10,128 people have been killed this year alone.  Americans are 20 times more likely to be killed by gun violence than people in any other developed country.  Although we have just 3 percent of the world’s population, the U.S. has 90 percent of the world’s firearm homicides.

“How many hearings have my Republican colleagues held on gun violence since taking over the House in 2011?  None.  Our own colleague, Gabby Giffords, was shot, and six of her constituents, including a federal District Court Judge and a nine-year-old girl, were killed in Arizona.  Nine people were murdered in Charleston, South Carolina, including the senior pastor and a state senator, while praying at their Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church.  Twenty children and six teachers were gunned down in their classrooms at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut.  Since Sandy Hook, there have been 142 school shootings, the most recent tragedy occurring on the campus of a community college in Oregon.  And since the Oregon shooting, 146 people have been killed in 128 shootings in the United States. 

“Not one hearing.  Not one vote on gun violence.

“For comparison’s sake, two months ago, an extremist released a series of heavily-edited and possibly illegal videos filled with lies about Planned Parenthood, an organization that has been providing comprehensive, compassionate health care to women for a century.  In the last 30 days, the House has opened three official investigations, spent countless hours in committee hearings, and, just yesterday, voted to establish a fourth investigation through a Special Select Committee.  We have taken 20 votes this year alone restricting women’s access to health care.  This very hearing is the Committee’s second in 30 days on Planned Parenthood, despite the fact that this entire farce is knowingly based on lies. 

“If my colleagues had even one shred of evidence that Planned Parenthood had broken any laws, they would have gone to a state or federal prosecutor right away.  But they didn’t, and they don’t.  Perhaps that’s why one of my Republican colleagues announced on TV just last week that there is no evidence Planned Parenthood has broken any laws.

“Imagine how many lives we could save if my colleagues devoted even one-half of that attention to stopping the epidemic – and it is an epidemic – of gun violence in our country.

“My colleagues will claim that we cannot possibly take any action on gun violence because the right to own a gun is protected by the Constitution.  That is a funny argument coming from the other side in light of this shameful hearing. 

“You know what else is protected by the Constitution?  A woman’s right to access abortion and to make her own choices about her health.  Yet the same colleagues who refuse to take any action on gun violence have no problem tossing the Constitution aside to impose their own moral opinions on all American women.

“Measures passed at the state and local level put unbelievable restrictions on a woman’s right to access an abortion.  Women must endure invasive tests and exams; wait 48 hours before they can undergo the procedure; take time-off from work to visit the one facility in their state where abortion is still available; and endure endless badgering and even assault from protestors any time they try to enter a clinic they have a constitutional right to access.  They must face regular shaming from the Republicans on this committee – all men, I may add – for making the choice to exercise their constitutional rights.

“Yet there are no such restrictions for acquiring a gun.  You can walk into a gun show at noon and walk out 15 minutes later with a high capacity magazine and a semi-automatic rifle in your hands.  No background check.  No ID.  No way of making sure the gun purchased is going to someone with the proper safety training or with no history of domestic violence.

“Imagine if we made people jump through the same hoops to buy a firearm as they do for having an abortion.  Imagine the invasive questions about why you are getting the gun and whether or not you’ve considered all your options.  Imagine the only way to get a gun was to prove through a police report that you’ve been raped or assaulted in the past, or have a lawyer certify that your life is in imminent physical danger unless you get a gun.  Think about being shamed and shouted at and forced to look at graphic images of gun violence as you walk into a gun shop.

“That outrage you feel.  That nagging feeling that the government has no right to put any restrictions on your constitutional right.  That is what a woman feels every time she tries to make a decision about her health.

“Until this committee is ready to face the real crisis of gun violence in our country, to take a firm stand that enough is enough and that it is time for real action, these proceedings will remain a hypocritical farce.

“I yield back my time.”