orangeleader.com (Orange, Texas)

Government

February 12, 2013

Dem, GOP senators clash at latest hearing on guns

(Continued)

WASHINGTON —

She added, "The only thing the gun laws did that day was prevent good people from protecting themselves."

Taking a different view was Sandra J. Wortham, whose brother, Thomas E. Wortham IV, was shot dead outside their parents' home by robbers, though he and his father, a retired police sergeant, fired back.

"The fact that my brother and father were armed that night did not prevent my brother from being killed," Wortham said in prepared testimony. "We need to do more to keep guns out of the wrong hands in the first place. I don't think that makes us anti-gun. I think it makes us pro-decent, law-abiding people."

Laurence H. Tribe, a liberal Harvard Law School professor, said in his prepared testimony that nothing Obama has proposed "even comes close to violating the Second Amendment" right to bear arms.

Tribe said more sweeping proposals to take guns away from citizens "have been decisively taken off the table" by Supreme Court rulings in 2008 and 2010 that overturned handgun bans by the District of Columbia and other state and local governments.

Differing from Tribe was attorney Charles J. Cooper, who has long defended gun rights.

Representing the NRA, Cooper said that those same Supreme Court rulings "establish that the Second Amendment guarantees a fundamental, individual right to keep and bear arms." He said Obama's proposed assault weapon and high-capacity magazine bans were unconstitutional because gun rights "cannot be circumscribed by appeal to countervailing government interests."

Also testifying was Daniel W. Webster, director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research, which favors tighter gun control laws. Webster said in his prepared statement that 2004 data on prisoners who had committed gun-related crimes showed that nearly 8 in 10 had obtained their firearms from unlicensed private sellers, whose transactions do not require background checks.

"Laws such as background check requirements for all gun sales will help law enforcement combat illegal gun trafficking and keep guns from prohibited individuals," he said.

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