By Melanie Mason
5:45 PM EST, January 29, 2013
WASHINGTON — One day before the Senate Judiciary committee holds its first hearing on gun policy, the hearing’s witnesses offered previews of the messages they plan to present.
Wayne LaPierre, executive vice president of the National Rifle Assn., one of hearing’s five scheduled witnesses, will urge senators to “be honest about what works — and what doesn’t work” in mitigating gun violence, according to testimony released by the organization.
LaPierre will endorse efforts to improve the nation’s mental health system, enforce existing laws and increase the number of armed guards in schools.
But he said in the prepared testimony that he “honestly and firmly” disagreed with most of the major legislative initiatives backed by the White House earlier this month.
“Law-abiding gun owners will not accept blame for the acts of violent or deranged criminals,” LaPierre says in the prepared remarks. “Nor do we believe the government should dictate what we can lawfully own and use to protect our families.”
Those who favor new gun legislation were also rallying supporters before the hearing.
Capt. Mark Kelly sent an email Tuesday afternoon to members of Americans for Responsible Solutions, the independent group he founded with his wife, former Rep. Gabby Giffords (D-Ariz.), to advocate for stricter gun laws. Kelly said he’ll push in his testimony for universal background checks and a ban on high-capacity magazines.
He encouraged the group’s backers to sign an online petition to prod Congress to support those measures.
LaPierre said efforts to tighten the background check system or ban assault weapons will “only serve to burden the law-abiding,” and that such proposals “have failed in the past and will fail in the future.”
“Let’s be honest – background checks will never be ‘universal’ – because criminals will never submit to them,” LaPierre says.
The NRA also sent an “urgent” legislative alert to members, urging supporters to attend tomorrow’s hearing and arrive at least two hours early to ensure entrance.
“You can bet the anti-gunners will be trying to mobilize their supporters to pack the hearing room so we need to make sure the room is filled with supporters of the Second Amendment!” the email reads.