A hearing by a House committee this week turned brutal for a few minutes when Democrats raked a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives official over the coals about his leaked paper advocating relaxed gun regs.
The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee held hearings on the use of confidential informants by the agency as well as the Drug Enforcement Administration on Tuesday during which the ATF’s associate deputy director and chief operating officer Ronald B. Turk, was asked about a controversial “white paper” he authored in January. The paper, penned at the time of President Trump’s inauguration and subsequently leaked, advocated removing NFA restrictions on the sale of suppressors, studying lifting the ban on imported “assault weapons” and other changes.
U.S. Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Virg., called out Turk over his unoffical paper, asking him if he had any input in producing it from the National Rifle Association.
“A lot of those thoughts read like an NRA white paper,” noted Connolly. “Do you represent the NRA or do you represent the American people at ATF?”
As Turk tried to respond, Connolly pointed out that his district includes Virginia Tech university, the scene of a 2007 mass shooting.
“We buried six young people and I couldn’t explain to them why an ATF agent or representative would think legalizing silencers might be a good idea,” said Connolly before moving on to other issues he had with Turk’s paper.
U.S. Rep. Val Demings, D-Fla., a freshman in the House who won election from the Orlando area last year with the backing of gun control groups and a $1.3 million war chest funded in large part by former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, took on Turk next.
Noting the Pulse nightclub shooting, Demings posed a question to the ATF administrator concerning how suppressor use during that mass shooting would have had an impact on the event.
“I wonder, Mr. Turk, what would have happened had the shooter had a silencer on the end of his assault rifle when he entered that club,” demanded Demings. “Do you believe it would have helped the shooter? Or helped the victims, who ran for their lives once they heard the sound of gunfire?”
Turk responded, “That was an absolute tragedy and the men and women work every day within ATF to fight violent crime and reduce gun violence.”