WASHINGTON (CBSNewYork) — There was heart-wrenching testimony on Capitol Hill on Wednesday that brought veteran lawmakers to tears.
The subject was assault weapons, and one of the people testifying was the father of a 6-year-old boy killed in the school shootings in Newtown, Conn., CBS 2’s Don Dahler reported.
No matter which side they are on the gun control issue, every member of the Senate Judiciary Committee was silent as Neil Heslin spoke about the last time he saw his son, Jesse.
“He said ‘Everything’s gonna be okay, dad. It’s all gonna be okay,’ and it wasn’t okay. I had to go home that night to an empty house without my son,” Heslin said.[cbs-audio url=”http://cbsnewyork.files.wordpress.com/2013/02/newtown.mp3″ size=”340″ download=”false” name=”Father Of Sandy Hook Victim: Ban Assault Weapons” artist=”WCBS 880’s Fran Schneidau reports”]
As spectators and senators wiped away tears, Heslin said he grew up with guns and had been teaching Jesse about gun safety, but the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School changed his mind about gun control.
“I’m here to speak up for my son. There’s many changes that have to happen to make a change effective,” Heslin said.
But despite Heslin’s emotional testimony, the committee is far from united.
“When almost 80,000 people fail a background check and 44 people are prosecuted, what kind of deterrent is that?” Sen. Lindsey Graham said.
“You know what? It doesn’t matter. It’s a paper thing. I want to stop … I want to finish the answer … I want to stop 76,000 people from buying guns illegally. That’s what a background check does. If you think we’re going to do paperwork prosecutions, you’re wrong,” Milwaukee Police Chief Ed Flynn said to applause.
The hearings are in regards to a bill sponsored by Sen. Dianne Feinstein and other Democratic senators to ban assault weapons and large-capacity ammunition clips. With concern by many lawmakers over Second Amendment rights, few expect that law to pass. And even President Barack Obama’s proposal for stricter background checks is in serious doubt.
But Heslin said the Second Amendment was written centuries before such deadly weapons were invented.
“It just breaks my heart that something like that could happen in this country,” Heslin said.
Republicans and some Democrats said Congress will most likely take action by boosting penalties for illegally trafficked guns and creating laws and data-bases to better keep guns out of the hands of the mentally ill.
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