It wasn’t altogether clear why Republicans on the House Judiciary and Oversight Committees held a joint hearing yesterday about guns. Ostensibly, the point of the gathering was to focus on the Biden administration “attacking” Second Amendment rights, but since no such attack exists in reality, the hearing was more of a pointless circus than a serious policy discussion.
“President Biden worked across the aisle to deliver the most significant gun violence reduction legislation in decades, but extreme MAGA House Republicans are proving they’re only interested in political stunts like today’s hearing to defend the gun lobby and push dangerous ideas that make Americans less safe,” Ian Sams, White House spokesperson for oversight, said in a statement.
What made the hearing especially notable, however, wasn’t the GOP talking points, but rather, the protesters in attendance. Roll Call reported:
A man whose son was killed in the 2018 Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting was arrested Thursday after disrupting a joint subcommittee hearing called by Republicans in defense of Second Amendment rights. A Capitol Police spokesman confirmed Thursday that Manuel Oliver, 55, was arrested in the Rayburn House Office Building after he “disrupted and refused to stop shouting, and then attempted to go back inside the hearing room.”
His wife, Patricia Oliver, also disrupted the hearing, and was also arrested.
The developments shouldn’t have surprised anyone. When Republicans hold a pointless public hearing to parrot gun industry talking points, those who’ve lost loved ones to gun violence are likely to show up and express their dissatisfaction.
What struck me as notable, however, was the reaction to the disruption from Rep. Pat Fallon.
The Texas Republican, who chairs the Oversight panel’s Economic Growth, Energy Policy, and Regulatory Affairs Subcommittee, not only wanted the protesters removed from the hearing room, he also thought it’d be a good idea to compare them to a very different kind of group.
“Is this an insurrection?” Fallon asked. “So will they be held to the same... I don’t want another January 6.”
In context, I suspect the Texas Republican’s question was rhetorical, but let’s go ahead and answer it anyway.
Were the grieving parents violent? Did they break through doors and windows? Were they carrying zip-ties? Did they repeat a chant about killing an elected official? Did they riot with the intention of overthrowing the government? Did members of Congress feel the need to run for their lives?
Then, no, this was not an “insurrection.”
GOP officials have invested an enormous amount of energy into the ridiculous idea that Democrats and law enforcement treated parents like terrorists if they raised concerns at school board meetings. It was against this backdrop that one House Republican yesterday compared grieving parents to insurrectionists because they raised concerns at a congressional hearing.