(WASHINGTON) — In advance of an oversight committee hearing with AR-15 manufacturers on their role in the gun violence epidemic on Wednesday, committee chair Rep. Carolyn Maloney sat down with ABC News to discuss the context.
One month after President Joe Biden signed bipartisan gun reform into law, targeted red flag laws and expanded background checks, House Democrats are working on additional gun reform legislation.
Maloney spoke with ABC News about new legislation that would target the sale of semiautomatic weapons, the chances of getting additional legislation passed through the Senate and her hopes for the Wednesday hearing.
GMA3: Congresswoman, thank you for being back on the program. So tell me, is this new legislation to ban semiautomatic weapons, is this meant to do what the initial bipartisan gun legislation did not do?
REP. CAROLYN MALONEY: Well, we need to continue building on the work of passing historic gun reform legislation. And my hearing this week should be a wakeup call to action for Congress to act to hold these gun manufacturers accountable for the deadly weapons that they’re manufacturing that are killing innocent Americans.
We expect to pass a bill banning assault weapons. We did this in 1994. It sunseted after ten years. But during that period, gun deaths went down. So, this is important legislation. Believe me, T.J., if guns made us safer, we’d be the safest nation on Earth. We are far from it. We’re the most dangerous.
GMA3: As again, that statistic we always hear we have more guns in this country than we actually do people in the country. But still, what chance does this legislation have? And do you have the votes right now, even in the House? Because even if it gets past the House, I think most would agree it has no chance in the Senate.
MALONEY: Well, we will get it through the House. I believe we have the votes in the House. The Senate is a challenge, but we need to take a vote and hold people accountable with the American public that has had it with these mass shootings in schools and in our synagogues and churches, our neighborhoods. It’s got to get these dangerous guns off the street. And the weapon of choice is the AR-15 assault weapon.
We are also passing legislation that will end the immunity that gun manufacturers have for manufacturing deadly weapons that are killing so many innocent people.
GMA3: Congresswoman, what do you think? You said you’re not sure if you have the votes yet. You think you’ll have them in the House. But even talking to Sen. Chris Murphy last week and I asked him, I said, where is the next step? What negotiations are going on for the possible next piece of gun legislation? And he just said, “hey, we just got this one done. Just let us– give us a minute to implement this one” and nothing else, really. Even for him who’s been so passionate on this issue, he thought we needed to just give it a beat. So why so quickly? You think there is momentum right now that needs to be taken advantage of?
MALONEY: After Buffalo and Uvalde, the innocent murders of so many schoolchildren, they are hold – we have more mass shootings in schools than any place in the world. More people die, roughly 40,000 a year from gun violence, and we need to take steps. We need to hold people accountable. And we need to continue putting a focus on it like you are today and passing legislation that will make it safer for our citizens.
Other countries don’t have this challenge. Only America. Usually they have a mass shooting and they pass gun safety laws and that’s it. But we have mass shooting after mass shooting. And we know what to do, unlike so many challenges where we don’t have the answer. We know gun safety laws are important and what they are and that we need to pass them. So we need to keep trying.
GMA3: And, Congresswoman, I know the hearing is tomorrow. You invited these gun manufacturers, the head of these companies to come. First question, how well-attended do you think it’s going to be? How many CEOs and gun manufacturers, the executives do you expect to have there? And what does it look like to hold a gun maker accountable for a gun? Yes, they make them, but then they don’t sell them or use them. So where do you see their accountability and where do they need to be doing better?
MALONEY: Well, I would say we have invited three manufacturers, CEOs, two have accepted. One is dodging us and not responding to our requests for documents. And we intend to hold them accountable eventually in some form.
But to your question, most industries have a responsibility for their products. We have liability on our cars. Every time there’s a car wreck, we study it. We should do the same thing with guns. We should have liability on guns. They’re far more dangerous than cars.
And then the drug industry, they keep a record of how much problems result from their drugs. We should be doing the same thing with guns. There are ways to hold them accountable. Stay tuned. You’ll hear more information from our hearing this weekend. And we are working on additional legislation that will be coming forward hopefully that will make America safer for our citizens.
GMA3: And can I ask, do you find something in their marketing, in something of the type of weapon they’re making? Would you like to see them cut back on how many of these weapons they make? I guess, what would you like to see them do?
MALONEY: Well, their marketing is horrendous. They are marketing to young people. They are having raffles. They have all kinds of ads to entice people to play on their emotions and their insecurities. Their marketing is absolutely horrendous. They need to be held accountable and they have not. It is an industry that is producing deadly weapons that are killing innocent people. And we need to take steps to hold them accountable.
I’ll have more information at the hearing. It’s embargoed now, but I always love talking to you, T.J., and we’ll have more information after the hearing. We have a report that will be coming out. And the information in it is at this point embargoed until the hearing tomorrow.
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