At a Senate hearing on gun violence Wednesday, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) was humiliated by a police chief who abruptly interrupted his talking points to insist that he’s “wrong” on how enhanced background checks for gun buyers would work.
Echoing the National Rifle Association, Graham argued before the Senate Judiciary Committee that enhanced background checks are not needed because the laws currently on the books are not enforced well enough.
“When almost 80,000 people fail a background check and 44 people are prosecuted, what kind of deterrent is that?” he asked. “I mean, the law obviously is not seeing that as important, if it’s such an important issue, why aren’t we prosecuting people who fail a background check?”
“Just for the record, from my point of view, the point of a background check…” Milwaukee police chief Edward A. Flynn began. “Senator…”
“How many cases have you made?” Graham pressed. “How many cases have…”
“You know what?” Flynn said. “It doesn’t matter. It’s a paper thing.”
“Can I ask the questions?” Graham interjected.
“I want to finish the answer,” Flynn replied.
“I want to stop 76,000 people from buying guns illegally,” he said. “That’s what a background check does. If you think we’re going to do paperwork prosecutions, you’re wrong.”
The Senate committee’s audience erupted into applause, which committee chair Sen. Dianne Feinsten (D-CA) asked to quiet down.
Graham added that he wants Americans to know that in the coming decade there will be less money for police, “so you may have to defend yourself,” ostensibly with firearms.
Amazingly, Graham himself voted against more funding for local police, fire departments and teachers when he cast a ballot against the American Jobs Act in 2011. He called the bill “nothing more than an expansion and continuation of the policies which have made our economy worse than when [President Barack Obama] took office.”
“We have priorities, we make gun cases,” Flynn continued. “We make 2,000 gun cases a year, senator. That’s our priority. We’re not in a paper chase. We’re trying to prevent the wrong people from buying guns, that’s why we do background checks. If you think I’m gonna do a paper chase, then you think I’m gonna misuse my resources.”
At a prior Senate gun hearing in January, Graham bragged that he personally owns an AR-15 assault rifle, the same customizable assault rifle platform that was used to kill 20 children in Newtown, Connecticut. At that hearing he urged fellow lawmakers to resist calls to ban high capacity magazines, like the ones used in Newtown, because “there could be a situation where a mother runs out of bullets because of something we do here.”
This video was published to YouTube on Feb. 27, 2013, as snipped by ThinkProgress.