January 13, 2017
Sen. Sessions Stands Strong on Guns During Confirmation Hearing
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) took a firm position on Capitol Hill during two days of confirmation testimony for his nomination to be the next attorney general of the United States. The National Shooting Sports Foundation urged Sessions’ confirmation due to his commitment to gun ownership rights, respect for the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act and vow to enforce the gun laws already on the books.
A letter of support from NSSF’s Lawrence Keane, senior vice president and general counsel, was entered into the Senate record.
Sessions testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee on a wide range of topics. The former Attorney General for Alabama and U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Alabama was clear on his stance with regard to guns. Sessions made it clear to his fellow senators the Second Amendment would be respected as an individual right by the Trump administration.
“Well, I do believe the Second Amendment is a personal right,” Sessions said in response to questions. “It’s an historic right of the American people, and the Constitution protects that and explicitly states that. It’s just as much a part of the Constitution as any of the other great rights and liberties that we value. So my record is pretty clear on that.”
Sessions also took a stand against universal background checks, telling the committee that laws already on the books need to be effectively enforced. The idea of applying universal background checks to every gun transfer is not only unfeasible, but intrusive.
“Well, I believe in background check laws and many of them are appropriate,” Sessions explained. “But, in every instance – there’s some instances when it’s not practical, let’s say. For example somebody inherited a gun from their grandfather. Those transactions I’m not sure should require that kind of universal background check.”
Sessions also testified that obstructive practices against the firearms industry would become a thing of the past. He was questioned by fellow senators on Operations Fast and Furious and Choke Point as examples of overreach by the attorney general’s office saying, “… I do believe it has a corrosive effect on public confidence in the constitutional republic of which we are sworn to uphold.”
Sessions responded to concerns from Senator Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) that Congress is still unable to determine if Operation Choke Point, an effort by the Department of Justice to lean on financial institutions to discriminate against businesses in the gun industry, has actually stopped. NSSF has worked with members in both the House of Representatives and the Senate to end the practice and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) issued a letter to banking and finance institutions to stop denying banking services based on broad categories versus financial risk.
Sessions told Crapo, “… a lawful business should not be attacked by having other lawful businesses pressured not to do business with the first business. That’s, to me – it would be hard to justify.”
Sessions vowed to the Senate committee that scapegoating the firearms industry and lawful gun owners for the use of guns in crimes committed by individuals would come to an end. Sessions pointed to his own record as attorney general and the successes in Operations Trigger Lock and Project Exile where the might of the federal government should be wielded to vigorously prosecute those who commit crimes with guns.
“The first and foremost goal I think of law enforcement would be to identify persons who are dangerous, who have a tendency or have been proven to be law breakers and been convicted and those who are caught carrying guns during the commission of a crime,” he explained.
“If I am confirmed, we will systematically prosecute criminals who use guns in committing crimes,” Sessions added. “As United States attorney, my office was a national leader in gun prosecutions nearly every year. We were partner with state and local law enforcement to take down these major drug trafficking cartels and dismantle criminal gangs.”