Republican Senator Jeff Sessions, President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee for attorney general, highlighted plans to come down hard on gun criminals during the opening statements of his confirmation hearing today in front of the Senate Judiciary committee.
In a statement interrupted by protesters shouting, “No Trump, No KKK, No Fascist USA,” Sessions expressed his desire to deal with America’s gun crime problem head on, outlining a plan he hopes will make America safer for everyone.
“If I am confirmed, we will systematically prosecute criminals who use guns in committing crimes,” Sessions said. “As United States Attorney, my office was a national leader in gun prosecutions nearly every year. We will partner with state and local law enforcement to take down these major drug trafficking cartels and dismantle criminal gangs. We will prosecute those who repeatedly violate our borders. It will be my priority to confront these crimes vigorously, effectively, and immediately.”
Sessions voiced concerns that “the recent jump in the violent crime and murder rates are not anomalies, but the beginning of a dangerous trend that could reverse those hard won gains that have made America a safer and more prosperous place.”
Gun crime in Chicago and Baltimore has been particularly troubling to Sessions. “In 2016, there were 4,368 shooting victims in Chicago,” Sessions said. “In Baltimore, homicides reached the second highest per-capita rate ever.”
Showing empathy for the victims of these crimes, Sessions reminded his audience that the victims are more than just disturbing statistics.
“We must always remember that these crimes are being committed against real people, real victims,” Sessions said. “It is important that they are kept in the forefront of our minds in these conversations, and to ensure that their rights are always protected.”
Sessions also paid homage to law enforcement officials killed in the line of duty and expressed his support for law enforcement officials throughout the country. If confirmed, Sessions hopes to ensure that the “Department of Justice is a unifying force for improving relations between the police in this country and the communities they serve.”
In the weeks leading up to his confirmation hearing, Sessions has been mired in controversy stemming from his record as both US Attorney in Alabama and as a Republican Senator. His stances on gun control, immigration, and women’s rights have all been questioned by those who oppose his confirmation and are set to be vigorously debated during his two-day confirmation hearing.