Hirono highlights urgent need to restrict access to military-style assault weapons

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Video of Senator Hirono’s Question Line. VC: Office of US Sen. Mazie Hirono

US Senator Mazie Hirono (D-HI) today emphasized the need to restrict widespread civilian access to military-style assault weapons amid the nation’s gun violence epidemic at a full Judiciary Committee hearing.

Senator Hirono who serves as a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, condemned what she called “the right-wing majority on the Supreme Court for making it easier for individuals to access military-style assault weapons” and asked policy experts about the dangers of these weapons of war.

Senator Hirono said she has long advocated for stronger gun safety laws, and has redoubled her advocacy following the recent mass shootings in Buffalo, Uvalde, Highland Park, and elsewhere.

Specifically, Senator Hirono asked Dr. Kyleanne Hunter, a senior political scientist for the RAND Corporation, questions regarding the need to collect better information and transparent data on incidents of gun violence in order to develop comprehensive, evidence-based gun safety legislation.

“As a public health issue, shouldn’t we be able to have a lot more information about incidents of gun violence?” asked Senator Hirono during the hearing. “Gun death is the highest cause of death for young people in our country, you would think that we would want to better understand the causalities and what we can do.”

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Senator Hirono also expressed concern that state-level gun safety laws, including Hawaiʻi’s, would be challenged, in light of the recent Supreme Court decision in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association, Inc. v. Bruen. 

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In an exchange with Duke University Law Professor Joseph Blocher, Senator Hirono expressed doubt as to whether the majority on the Supreme Court would support national or state bans on assault weapons or large capacity magazines. She also reiterated the need to limit civilians’ ability to purchase military-style assault weapons.

“The Supreme Court is not asking the question of whether or not, or how often these kinds of assault weapons—however way we describe them—are used in self-defense,”said Senator Hirono. “They’re asking whether it’s dangerous and unusual, and when you have 20 million of these kinds of items in our environment, that’s not particularly unusual. That’s why this is a Supreme Court that is moving us toward enabling more and more people to own all kinds of guns, and we are already awash in guns in our country.”

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