Congressman Nadler Redirects Republican’s Judiciary Committee Hearing with U.S. Attorney General Lynch to Raise Issue of Gun Violence

Jul 12, 2016 Issues: Civil Liberties, Civil Rights

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Today, Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), senior member of the House Judiciary Committee and Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property and the Internet, delivered the following remarks as part of the Committee’s Oversight Hearing of the Department of Justice with U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch.  Congressman Nadler decried Republican concern for Secretary Clinton’s emails and instead raised the issue of America’s gun violence epidemic and the lack of Congressional action despite more than 33,000 gun-related deaths every year. 

Below is the text of Rep. Nadler’s remarks, with full video including responses from Attorney General Lynch found here:

“Thank you, Ms. Lynch, for appearing here today and for your service as Attorney General.  I am sure that many of my Republican colleagues will spend their time discussing the overhyped matter concerning Secretary Clinton’s emails.  But, I am going to focus instead on more important issues facing this country.

“We are all sickened by the killings of Alton Sterling, in Baton Rouge, and Philando Castile, outside of St. Paul.  According to the ACLU, Mr. Castile was the 123rd African-American to be killed by law enforcement this year.  That is, of course, no excuse for last week’s vicious murders of five police officers in Dallas.  But the knowledge that Mr. Sterling’s and Mr. Castile’s deaths come on the heels of a long list of senseless killings of black men, women and children, whose encounters with the police might have gone differently had they not been black, must spur us to take action.  Black Lives Matter is not a hashtag, it is an imperative.  And I appreciate the work that you are doing, and that your Department is doing, in this regard, and I hope you will keep us informed on that.

“But I want to go to a different matter, related unfortunately.  Exactly one month ago today, a lone gunman killed 49 people, and wounded more than 50 others, in an LGBT nightclub in Orlando.  In 2016, there were 229 mass shootings, defined as shootings in which at least four people are shot.  As you know, every day, on average, nearly 300 Americans are shot in murders, assaults, suicides, suicide attempts, accidents, and police actions.  48 of them are children and teenagers. 

“This is a distinctly American problem.  More than 33,000 Americans lose their life to gun violence each year.  In the United Kingdom, in 2011, 146 deaths to gun violence; Denmark, 71; Portugal, 142; and Japan, just 30.  The United States, 33,000.  You cannot tell me, no one can tell me that the American people are a thousand times more mentally ill than people in these other countries. 

“A recent study in the American Journal of Medicine found that, compared to 22 other high-income countries, the gun-related murder rate in the United States is 25-times higher.

“There is an epidemic of gun violence.  And how has the Majority in Congress responded?  With emergency hearings about Hillary Clinton’s and Lois Lerner’s emails.

“We have held of course zero hearings on gun violence.  We have passed no bills to address the issue.  We have done nothing to require universal background checks, we continue to allow military-style assault weapons on our streets, we have not even prevented those on the no-fly list from purchasing guns.  That’s why I was proud to join John Lewis and nearly the entire Democratic Caucus in protesting the Republican Congress’s abdication on this issue.”

Q:        “Ms. Lynch, what does the assassination of five Dallas police officers last week tell us about the NRA’s favorite adage: The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun—the police officers, after all, were armed. And what about an armed society is a polite society?”

Q:        “A loop-hole in federal law allows for the transfer of a firearm to anybody after 3 business days even if a background check is not complete.  Last year, the FBI concluded that the suspect in the shooting in Charleston was able to purchase a gun through this loop-hole.  Should that policy change?  Should we hold the transfer of firearms until the background check has been completed?”

Q:        “My time is expiring, but I wanted to briefly mention one more issue.  We have been following the Department’s review of the consent decrees that govern ASCAP & BMI.  There are reports that the Department is not recommending any changes to the consent decrees, but is moving forward with an interpretation of the decrees requiring these organizations to license works on a 100% basis, instead of the current practice of fractional licensing, in conflict with the formal opinion of the U.S. Register of Copyrights.  I have heard from numerous songwriters and constituents greatly concerned about the disruption this will cause in the industry and to the creative process.  Several of the parties involved have raised a host of other issues related to the consent decrees as well.  Can you clarify for the Committee the status of the Department’s review of the consent decrees, and the process moving forward?”