Doyle, Energy & Commerce Democrats Request Gun Violence Hearings

Mar 7, 2018 Issues: Gun Violence

Washington, DC – Today, all 24 Democrats on the House Energy and Commerce Committee sent a letter to Committee Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR) urging him to hold hearings as soon as possible to address gun violence in America.
The Democrats’ letter includes a request for four hearings on gun violence, including: who gun violence hurts; whether mass shootings are becoming increasingly deadly; the distribution of guns, ammunition, and accessories through e-commerce, and whether federal agencies have the resources necessary to exercise effective oversight of such activity; and the extent to which social media may be increasing the hostility surrounding the gun debate.

“The day after the Parkland shooting, Speaker Ryan said that he was not willing to discuss gun control at this time.  The Trump Administration said the same thing after a gunman killed 58 people in Las Vegas, Nevada last October, albeit while promising that ‘one day’ such policy conversations would be appropriate,” the Democrats wrote to Chairman Walden.  “Americans deserve better than empty promises and delaying tactics.  ‘One day’ is now, and this debate has gone on long enough.  The lives of our children and our constituents are at risk, and it is past time for us to take common-sense measures to protect them.”

“The American people rightfully have questions about the ever-increasing capacity of guns to kill or seriously harm in large numbers and why these weapons are so easy to obtain in the marketplace,” the Democrats continued in their letter to Chairman Walden.  “There are also legitimate questions this Committee must take up, including the ease of purchasing ammunition and gun accessories online and whether social media is contributing to the societal divisions on the topic of gun violence.”

Today’s letter follows a February 16th letter from the Democratic Committee members to Chairman Walden and Subcommittee Chairman Michael Burgess (R-TX) calling on them to hold a hearing on gun violence prevention research.  The Republican leaders have neither responded to that request nor scheduled a hearing on the subject.

The Democrats are requesting four additional hearings be held to explore the following topics:

  • Gun violence in America: Who does gun violence hurt?  This hearing would examine who is most likely to be killed or injured in a firearm related incident, what proportion of gun deaths are attributable to suicide, accidents, or mass shootings, and the barriers to predicting where and when those shootings will take place.  
  • The lethality of guns in America: Where do you draw the line between sport, self-defense, and public threat?  This hearing would examine if mass shootings have become increasingly deadly, whether there is a rising death toll attributable to particular guns, ammunition, or accessories, and the types of guns used for sport and self-defense and the ease with which they can be purchased.
  • “Shoot Now, Pay Later”: Sales of guns, ammunition, and accessories over the Internet.  This hearing would explore the ease of purchasing guns on the Internet, and what both companies and the government can do to close loop-holes that allow those that cannot purchase guns in person to purchase them online.
  • What role does social media play in the divisions of the gun debate?  This hearing would examine whether social media is increasing the hostility surrounding the gun control debate in response to the conspiracy theories, and bot and troll activity with both pro-gun and anti-gun messages, which inundated social media after the Parkland shooting.

A copy of the letter is available here