GOP Rep justifies violence against federal agents enforcing gun control laws

The House Oversight Committee held a hearing yesterday with the executives of major firearm manufacturers Daniel Defense and Sturm, Ruger & Company. Democratic members of the panel sought to document the “responsibility that the firearm industry bears in contributing to the gun violence epidemic in the United States” and determine “the steps Congress can take to hold manufacturers accountable.”

The two CEOs:

Marty Daniel, CEO of Daniel Defense, the manufacturer of the firearm used in the Uvalde school shooting (clip):

I’m grateful for the opportunity to work with you and to join with Americans across the country in attempting to find an effective solution to combat the unacceptable increase in violent crime in our country, including the evil acts in Uvalde, Buffalo, and Highland Park that prompted this hearing. I’m sharing my views today to ensure the voices of all law-abiding citizens and gun owners are understood by this committee. I am concerned, however, that the implied purpose of this hearing is to vilify, blame, and to try to ban over 24 million sporting rifles already in circulation that are lawfully possessed and commonly used by millions of Americans to protect their homes and loved ones, to safely sport shoot with family and friends, and to put food on the table as licensed hunters. This proceeding is focused on the type of firearm that was involved in fewer than 4% of homicides involving firearms in 2019.

I believe in God and my faith guides me and my family. Fundamentally, I also believe that there is good and evil in our lives. What we saw in Uvalde, Buffalo, and Highland Park was pure evil. The cruelty of murderers who committed these act is unfathomable and deeply disturbing to me, my family, my employees, and millions of Americans across the country. Lately, many Americans, myself included, have witnessed an erosion of personal responsibility in our country and in our culture. Mass shootings were all but unheard of just a few decades ago. So, what changed? Not the firearms. They are substantially the same as those manufactured over 100 years ago. I believe our nation’s response needs to focus not on the type of gun, but on the type of persons who are likely to commit mass shootings.

Christopher Killoy, CEO of Sturm, Ruger & Company, the manufacturer of the firearm used in the Boulder, Colorado, mass shooting last year and in the Sutherland Springs church shooting, the deadliest mass shooting in Texas history (clip):

At Ruger we are proud Americans who embrace the constitution and the blanket of protections it provides including specifically those guaranteed by the Second Amendment. We firmly believe it is wrong to deprive citizens of their constitutional right to purchase the lawful firearm they desire because of the criminal acts of wicked people. A firearm, any firearm, can be used for good or for evil. The difference is the intent of the individual possessing it, which we will respectfully submit should be the focus of investigations into the root causes of criminal violence involving firearms.

Democratic questioning

Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) asked Killroy if there are “any number of shootings in schools, churches, and synagogues that would convince you to stop selling weapons of war to civilians?” (clip)

Killroy: Respectfully, Congresswoman, I do not consider the modern sporting rifles that my company produces to be weapons of war. Like all Americans, I grieve when we read about these tragic incidences. You ask what the industry has done and what our company has done and can do. One of the things you reference is the Sutherland Spring situation. In that case the evil person who perpetrated those crimes and murders was allowed to buy a firearm that he should not have been allowed to do.

Rep. Katie Porter (D-CA) used her time to point out the lack of safety measures on firearms (clip):

Porter: Other industries take seriously their responsibility to manufacture products that protect consumers. With firearms, this responsibility is a matter of life and death. One study found that nearly 40% of accidental gun deaths could be prevented with technology that prevents not authorize users from firing guns. These ideas are not new, the study was published nearly 20 years ago. Yet, technology like fingerprint scanners or bracelets with radio frequency identifiers are nowhere near the standard for firearms. Mr. Killoy, how many of your firearms come equipped with fingerprint scanning mechanisms?

Killoy: Congresswoman, none of them currently come equipped with such a device.

Porter: None. Mr. Daniel, how about Daniel Defense? How many of your weapons come equipped with fingerprint identity scanners?

Daniel: Congresswoman, we do not sell any type of firearm this way, our customers have not asked for it.

Porter: That is a no. This is my cell phone. Mr. Killoy, it scans my fingerprint each time I go to unlock it. Is this a weapon?

Killoy: No, ma’am.

Porter: Can this fire bullets that shred people’s vital organs? This phone?

Killoy: No, Congresswomen, it can’t.

Porter: Then why does this device require more steps to operate than your company’s firearms, which have been used in accidental shootings, mass shootings, and homicides?

Killoy: Congresswoman, respectfully, your cell phone does not generate internal pressure upwards of 60,000 lbs per square inch. The operating system of a firearm is extremely dynamic, extremely high pressure, lots of moving pieces, and first and foremost—

Porter: Respectfully, reclaiming my time. These fingerprint scanners are offered on some firearms. Some manufacturers sell this, and they work. Your company, and Mr. Daniels’ company, chooses not to.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez (D-NY) showed Daniel a still image from one of Daniel Defense’s ads that featured a white supremacist tattoo (clip):

AOC: Mr. Daniel, you may or may not know, but your company’s advertisement prominently displays iconography associated with white supremacist movements. You can also find it in this other photo that I will be pulling up right now. Right there from January 6th, you can see the valknut right there on this gentleman’s chest. Mr. Daniel, yes or no, are you aware that your advertising department uses imagery affiliated with white supremacist movements and its marketing materials?

Daniel: No, ma’am.

Rep. Cortez then showed Ruger’s CEO a photo of a rifle with a design modeled on the Hawaiian pattern adopted by the far-right extremist group Boogaloo Bois:

AOC: Mr. Killoy, you’re a board member, a CEO of Sturm, Ruger & Company, Inc., and a member of the National Shooting Sports Foundation. Mr. Daniel, you’re also a member of the NSSF. My. Kilroy, Palmetto State Armory is a firearms company that is a member of the NSSF. As a member of the foundation that you’re in, right here, Palmetto State Armory has used imagery clearly designed to appeal to the FBI identified far-right domestic terrorist threat, Boogaloo Bois with products such as this AK-47 style pistol, designed in the same floral pattern as often used by these group members to identify one another. Mr. Killoy, as a board member of the NSSF, do you condemn marketing firearms to identified extremist groups such as the Proud Boys or Oath Keepers or Boogaloo Bois, yes or no, do you condemn your industry explicitly marketing materials to domestic terror threats?

Killoy: Congresswoman, the National Shooting Sports Foundation does not control individual member companies—

AOC: But this is a member of your foundation, Mr. Killoy.

Killoy: I take exception to the fact that, you know—I can assure you there is, we do not tolerate racism or white supremacy…I had never seen that ad before, I didn’t realize that’s what it is tied to. I’m not an expert in that field.

Republican questioning

Rep. Clay Higgins (R-LA) threatened law enforcement with violence if laws are passed causing people to have to give up any of their firearms (clip)

Higgins: What my colleagues are doing, it’s really, it is unbelievably beyond the pale of anything reasonable or constitutional. Everything we are leading towards here is the seizure of weapons from the homes of law-abiding American citizens that have purchased those weapons legally. You are setting up gunfights in the homes of Americans between Americans responding in the dead of night. When do you think ATF and FBI comes to the house? In the dead of night. You are setting up gunfights between American citizens defending their homes from dark shadows, clearly armed, coming into our home, on to our porch, and through our door. You are setting up death. Americans killing Americans over some fantasy that you can define. What is a dangerous weapon in the hands of those Americans? Living beyond their true right. To exercise their own decisions about what type of firearm they legally purchased and own. It’s insane. What you’re pushing, it is not going to end well… My colleagues in the Democratic party, when those gunfights happen, that blood will be on your hands. Over some political charade of pretending to be able to identify weapons from your ivory tower in DC.

Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) blamed Democratic policies for creating the need to own assault rifles in the first place (clip):

Jordan: Unfortunately, it is probably more common in light of the Democrats’ ridiculous policies to defund the police, not prosecuting criminals when they do crimes, letting people who attack a United States congressman running for governor—let him out on bail in the state of New York, that leads to the idea that people need guns to protect themselves, their family, and our property…

Jordan: The Democrats’ beef is with the Second Amendment. They don’t like the Second Amendment. They want to get rid of the Second Amendment but they can’t because in the constitution the American people like the fact that we have the right to bear arms to protect ourselves, our family, our property. They like that fact. And it is a cumbersome process to amend and change the constitution, they can’t do that so they are going to say ‘we’re going to ban certain types of weapons, we’re going to call them assault weapons and try to ban them,’ or they are going to come manufacturers act and try to sue them.

Rep. Andrew Clyde (R-GA) attempted to trap Ryan Busse, a former gun industry executive who now works with the Giffords Law Center, in a ‘gotchya’ question (clip).

Clyde: How is an AR-15 any different from any other semi-automatic rifle with a detachable magazine. Let’s say like a Remington 7400?

Busse: The AR-15 and the military version rifle on which it is based is designed specifically for offensive use in war. The Remington rifle to which you refer is not designed for that. There are numerous design factors, I don’t think we have enough time to list all the features which denote that.

Clyde: Do they not both fire one round with the single pull of the trigger?

Busse: Yes, sir, they do.

Clyde: Do they not fire the same caliber of round?

Busse: They both can be chambered in that caliber, yes sir.

Clyde: Do they not both feed from a detachable box magazine?

Busse: Yes, sir they do.

Clyde: So, basically what you see is looks. Just it looks different.

Busse: That’s not true.

Clyde: Between a Remington 7400 and an AR-15—it does exactly the same thing.

Busse: If that was the case, sir, I would expect that we would be soon arming our special forces with the Remington 7400. I’m not aware of any such demands.

Clyde: Our special forces, they don’t use AR-15s do they?

Busse: Some do, yes sir.

Clyde: They use M-4s.

Busse: No, some use AR-15s.