“I just want to let everyone know from the beginning, I’m a hunter, I’m a gun owner and I believe that law-abiding citizens have a Second Amendment right to own firearms,” Rep. Mike Thompson (D-Calif.) said in his opening remarks.
“I’m not interested in giving up my firearms, my guns, and I’m not going to ask other law abiding Americans to give up theirs,” Thompson said.
He went on cite the 2007 Supreme Court decision in District of Columbia v. Heller, which upheld the Second Amendment right of citizens to bear arms for self-defense.
“And not only is this something I believe in personally, after the Supreme Court ruled in the Heller decision, this is off the table,” Thompson said.
“The court ruled that law-abiding citizens have a right to own firearms, so I don’t want that discussion,” Thompson said. “Irrespective of what side you are on, (that issue) should not get in the way of the work that we’re doing.”
The Democratic task force hearing came about because gun-control advocates – including President Obama – have tried to advance the debate on restricting firearms since Dec. 14, when Adam Lanza shot and killed 26 people (20 of whom were children) at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.
Last week, when Obama announced 23 executive orders to put in place gun-control policies that bypass Congress, Thompson issued a statement supporting the move.
“The president and our task force agree that we need a comprehensive approach to reduce and prevent gun violence,” Thompson said in the statement. “Executive action can and should be part of the process, and many of the executive actions announced today will have a positive influence on reducing gun violence.
“Now it’s time for Congress to step up and do what needs to be done to save lives,” Thompson said. “Many of the policies that will have the greatest impact on reducing gun violence will require congressional action.
Obama's executive orders came after Vice President Joe Biden and a White House Task Force issued recommendations, which include universal background checks. Meanwhile, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) has introduced a bill to ban assault weapons and legislation sponsored by Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) would ban ammo clips holding more than 10 rounds.
The House Democratic panel convened Wednesday to hear from sportsmen, law enforcement and public health organizations, who are testifying on and limiting the number of bullets in gun magazines.
Other members of the House task force include Reps. Ron Barber (D-Ariz.), John D. Dingell (D-Mich.), Elizabeth Esty (D-Conn.), Chaka Fattah (D-Penn.), Carolyn McCarthy (D-N.Y.), Grace Napolitano (D-Calif.), Ed Perlmutter (D-Colo.), David Price (D-N.C.), Bobby Scott (D-Va.), Jackie Speier (D-Calif.), Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) and Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.).