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Hatch, Lee say feds are overreaching with gun control

Published: Wednesday, Jan. 30 2013 12:50 p.m. MST

From left, Mark Kelly, husband of former Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who was seriously injured in the mass shooting that killed six people in Tucson, Ariz. two years ago; David Kopel, law professor at Strum College in Denver; Baltimore Police Chief James Johnson, chairman of the National Law Enforcement Partnership to Prevent Gun Violence; Gayle Trotter, senior fellow with the Independent Women's Forum; and National Rifle Association CEO Wayne LaPierre, are sworn in on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2013, prior to testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on gun violence.

Susan Walsh, Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Utah Sens. Mike Lee and Orrin Hatch were swift to react to Wednesday's Senate hearings on gun control, saying the federal government is guilty of overreach and offering the wrong solutions. 

Several major figures in the gun control debate testified during the session, including National Rifle Association Executive Vice President and CEO Wayne LaPierre and former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, who was seriously injured in a mass shooting two years ago. The questioning ranged from the proposed ban of high capacity weapons and magazines to the feasibility of instituting a universal background check.  

"This administration mouths off an awful lot about guns and yet what are they doing about it?" Hatch told KSL NewsRadio Wednesday. "What they want to do is take away one of the express rights in the Constitution. … The Founding Fathers knew very well that it keeps the government safe and keeps the government sane." 

Hatch said it was evident from the LaPierre's testimony that the federal government hasn't done enough to enforce gun laws already on the books.  

"I don't trust the (federal) government. … We're going to have to be very forceful with how the (current) laws are enforced," he said. "And I think Utah does do that."

Lee said Gayle Trotter, a senior fellow and attorney at the Independent Women's Forum, made a case for holding off on a ban of automatic weapons. 

"One of the more compelling moments came from our witness who was outlining the reasons why women frequently are at a disadvantage when it comes to being the victims of crime," Lee said. "As she put it, (automatic) guns can be a great equalizer in that circumstance. I thought that was a very effective and compelling point." 

Lee also believes reducing everyday access to firearms would produce negative, unintended consequences for law-abiding citizens. 

"There really is a downside to restricting gun access," Lee said. "There' an upside that is sometimes more obvious to people, but there's also a downside. … We've got to be careful about how we impose those restrictions."

Hatch wanted the hearing to address a wide range of issues related to gun crime.

"In preventing future tragedies like what happened at Newtown, we need to be honest," Hatch said. "We need to look at all the factors, (such as) violence in the culture through media, including video games that kids sit and play for hours."

E-mail: blockhart@deseretnews.com

Twitter: @benlockhart89

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