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Durbin Squares Off With NRA Boss On Capitol Hill

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U.S. Capitol Dome

U.S. Capitol Dome (Credit: AP)

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Bob Roberts is a native of Wilmette who has worked in Chicago media...
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WASHINGTON (CBS) – U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) exchanged testy words Wednesday with gun rights advocates at a hearing on gun control on Capitol Hill.

At one point, the hearing had to be gaveled to order when Durbin and National Rifle Association CEO Wayne LaPierre accused each other of missing the point on mandatory background checks for gun purchases.

Durbin also accused the NRA of advocating taking up arms against the government. That stemmed from a statement in which LaPierre said the Second Amendment had evolved from a protection against tyranny to an assurance that people can protect themselves in the event of a tornado, hurricane or riot when law enforcement is not around.

Durbin ripped into LaPierre as he prefaced the next question to Baltimore County (Md.) Police Chief James Johnson.

“Well, Chief Johnson, you’ve heard it. The belief of the NRA is that the Second Amendment has to give American citizens the firepower to fight back against you, against our government.”

LaPierre weakly replied, “That’s not what I said.”

LaPierre was not Durbin’s only target. When questioning University of Denver constitutional law professor David Kopel, the two disagreed sharply over what size of magazine should be allowed for semi-automatic weapons.

Durbin favors a 10-round limit; Koppel advocates for at least 19 rounds. Durbin said 19 is too many and should be restricted to police and the military. The two agreed, after Durbin asked repeatedly about it, that there is no place for the 100-round “drum” magazine that was used in the Aurora, Col., movie theater shootings.

“Citizens (should) protect each other the same way the police officers do,” Kopel said.

“I can’t relate to the need for that man in Aurora., Col., to have a 100-pound drum, 100 cartridges,” Durbin said.

Kopel called the drum “a piece of junk.”

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