July 20 (UPI) — The mayor of Highland Park, Ill., where seven people were killed during a mass shooting at a Fourth of July parade, testified in Congress on Wednesday and urged lawmakers to pass a national ban on military-style firearms.
Mayor Nancy Rotering and a panel of experts appeared before the Senate judiciary committee for a hearing titled, “Protecting Our Communities from Mass Shootings.”
The committee said before the hearing that some type of action is needed to get control of military-style weapons that can kill numerous people in just a few seconds.
Since the July 4 shooting, Rotering has been calling on President Joe Biden and Congress for an assault weapons ban similar to one enacted under former President Bill Clinton. That law lasted for a decade before Republicans in Congress declined to extend it.
“Less than a minute was all it took for a person with an assault weapon to shoot 83 rounds into the crowd changing so many lives,” Rotering said at Wednesday’s hearing.
“Congress must take action. You must federally ban assault weapons.
“How do we call this freedom? Other advanced nations live free of gun violence.”
Committee Chair Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., said in his opening remarks that he’s furious that a Fourth of July parade could “turn into a killing field in the United States of America.”
“I hear you, I see you,” he told advocates and those affected by gun violence. “I stand with you in this fight that goes beyond thoughts and prayers.
“It’s disgraceful that we have done so little.”
The other witnesses at Wednesday’s hearing were Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill.; Kyleanne Hunter, a senior political scientist for the RAND Corp.; Joseph Blancher, a professor of law at Duke University; Philip Smith, founder and president of the National African American Gun Association; and Russell Bentley, co-founder and senior analyst at Safe Havens International.
At the hearing, Duckworth called for a renewed ban and said gun manufacturers are “making a profit on dead babies.”
“We don’t have to live this way,” she said. “We can have an armed citizenry without having weapons of war.”
The hearing came after three particularly bloody mass shootings in the United States — the first at a supermarket in Buffalo, N.Y., and then an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, and most recently the attack at the July 4 parade.
Last month, Congress and Biden enacted the first new gun control legislation in decades. Some Republicans supported the bill, but others in the party say that an assault weapons ban isn’t the answer.
Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said such a ban would be “ineffective and not consistent with the right to self-defense.” He also said he’s concerned about restrictive gun laws “infringing on the right to self-defense.”
Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, however, said that doing nothing would dishonor victims of gun violence.
“I believe that the 2nd amendment and good public policy are not mutually exclusive,” he said.