Senators complain about guns not being allowed at hearing

WASHINGTON — Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) last week stood in front of an array of assault weapons to launch her drive for tougher gun laws. But on Wednesday, a pair of Republican senators who oppose Feinstein’s bill had to use photos of guns after running into barriers trying to arrange for a display of unloaded firearms at a Capitol Hill hearing.

“It is only appropriate that senators be allowed to inspect at least some of the firearms and make an informed decision on why millions of Americans, like us, oppose the Feinstein ban,” Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Ted Cruz (R-Texas) wrote in a letter to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.).

They complained about “overly onerous requirements” in trying to bring firearm exhibits into the hearing.

Washington has tough gun laws, and the U.S. Capitol is under heavy security. But a Feinstein spokesman said the senator’s office worked closely with law enforcement officials and ensured that the weapons displayed at her news conference had trigger locks with police standing near the display the entire time. No one except police were allowed to touch the weapons.

Graham and Cruz asked that Leahy and his staff work with law enforcement “to ensure at future hearings senators can request, and law enforcement will timely provide, various firearms for display and discussion purposes.”

David Gregory, host of NBC’s “Meet the Press,” last month exhibited on camera a large-capacity ammunition magazine despite a D.C. ban on such devices. The D.C. attorney general declined to prosecute, citing a “1st Amendment purpose of informing an ongoing public debate about firearms policy” but warned that his decision was a close call and any future violation will be prosecuted “to the full extent supported by the facts and the law.”

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