Transcript: Chaska Police Chief Scott Knight’s testimony on gun violence

Police Chief Scott Knight of Chaska, Minnesota testifies on the need for stronger federal gun laws before the House Democratic Steering and Policy Committee on Jan. 16, 2013. SOURCE:

Transcribed and edited by Jenny Jiang

Transcript of testimony by Scott Knight, Chief of Police of Chaska, Minnesota, on gun violence before the House Democratic Steering and Policy Committee on Jan. 16, 2013: 

Good afternoon. Thank you, Leader Pelosi, for the opportunity to speak before the committee and thank you committee members. I’ve been involved in firearms policy and legislation for a very long time.

I’ve been a police officer for 36 years and a chief for 12. I am the former chair of the IACP Firearms Committee and a former chair of the National Partnership to Prevent Gun Violence.

For many years, we have worked to try and stop the madness and avert the tragedies we’re seeing.

These needless tragedies occur every day with real people – police officers included – losing their lives or suffering injury due to the inadequacy of our gun laws.

Law enforcement is on the front lines of the gun violence epidemic.

In 2011, for the first time in 14 years, more law enforcement officers were killed in the line of duty by guns than any other means.

Approximately 2,000 children under the age of 18 are killed every year by guns. I’m very sad that it’s taken such horrific mass murders, including those of the 20 small children in Connecticut, to get our attention.

The debate about gun violence has been inaccurately depicted as either pro-gun or anti-gun. This framework has stifled debate and an honest, rational discussion about what should be done to prevent gun violence.

Law enforcement is not anti-gun. We own guns; we work with guns; we carry guns. Many are hunters. Many pursue hunting, sporting, conservation issues.

We know that guns in dangerous hands have terrible consequences. We have seen devastations caused by weapons with excessive firepower.

Federal law already deems certain categories of people too dangerous to possess firearms. Among them: felons, fugitives, minors, and those who have been committed to a mental institution or adjudicated as mentally ill.

The Brady Law, enacted in 1994, established a national background check system. But those checks, as you know, are only required when someone is making a purchase from a federally-licensed firearms dealer. A way around those checks is for a person to purchase at a gun show, an ad, or through a private party.

And we know – we’ve heard – an estimated 40% of firearms are acquired through private transactions, meaning a prohibited person can and does obtain a weapon without a background check.

After the tragedy in Newtown, the gun lobby – funded in part by the gunmakers – proclaimed that the solution to “a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun”. But the real solution is to prevent the “bad guy” from getting a gun in the first place is to do a background check. That’s something that the good guy does.

From 1994 – when the Brady law took effect – to 2009 – by the way, that’s the last public data we could get – nearly two million prohibited purchases were blocked. Two million! Can you imagine? Can you imagine what the current data might be and can you imagine if background checks were required universally? That’s a lot of bad guys prevented from getting guns. That’s good guys stopping bad guys.

It’s time to stop dangerous people from getting guns from any source. You can. Congress must pass legislation requiring background checks for all purchases.

We must also approve the National Instant Criminal Background Check system. No one has NICBCS. Too many records are not in NICBCS because states are behind in their reporting and too many states have not submitted records of those who have disqualifying mental health issues. This must be fixed.

It is critical to reinstate the ban on assault weapons and on ammunition magazines with a capacity of more than 10 rounds.

Assault weapons are not legitimate sporting guns nor were they designed for citizens to use in defending their homes. They were created to spray bullets in rapid fire on a battlefield – not in our streets. This kind of firepower in our communities is simply irresponsible and facilitates mass murder.

Banning high-capacity magazines will reduce the number of bullets the shooter can use before they must reload. From Tucson, Arizona to Baltimore County, Maryland, perpetrators have been taken down while they’re changing out magazines trying to reload.

Semi-automatic assault weapons already exist and they should be treated the same way that we treat machine guns. They should be registered, and those persons should go through a background check in order to possess them.

The proposal to arm teachers and volunteers in our schools is a distraction and it’s very dangerous. It opens a host of security issues. It is very difficult for even a highly-trained police officer to engage an active shooter. It takes a great deal of training and a great deal of training – something that our teachers and our principals and our superintendents don’t have time and probably aren’t inclined to do.

Police in schools – also known as school resource officers – help make schools safer by building relationships and trust, and it’s those relationships and trust, folks, that stop the bad guy before an event happens; we’re not coming in after the fact. We have relationships to develop that glean information so we know when someone’s in trouble and we know when someone’s struggling and we know when they’re threatening to do something because time and time again we have the evidence of it. And it’s typically the school resource officer who develops that relationship and gets that information and stops that event. It happens everyday, and because nothing happened it does not make the news.

I also want to stress the ATF needs a director in place as soon as possible. It has been six years that post has been vacant.

And you know and I know a serious light needs to be shined on the Tiahrt Amendment. It needs to be repealed and removed.

All across the country, law enforcement and the public are calling upon Congress to strengthen our nation’s laws. I daresay we’re pleading. I ask that you heed our call and enact these very sensible measures that will prevent – will prevent – further bloodshed.

Thank you.



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One Comment on “Transcript: Chaska Police Chief Scott Knight’s testimony on gun violence

  1. Pingback: Analysis: Newtown shooting underscores need to ban high-capacity ammunition magazines | What The Folly?!

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