‘How dare you?’: Louie Gohmert has emotional outburst at gun bill hearing

Texas Representative Louie Gohmert had an emotional outburst after Democratic representatives suggested Republicans’ opposition to new restrictions on firearm ownership put them on the side of the mass killers who’ve perpetrated shootings in several American cities over the last month.

Mr Gohmert, a Texas Republican, said on Thursday it was “an outrage” that his colleagues would imply Republicans “must be here for the gunmen” during a House Judiciary Committee markup of legislation to raise the age at which Americans can purchase high-powered military-style rifles from 18 to 21.

Sitting in his home office and appearing at the markup remotely, he became visibly agitated as he railed against his Democratic colleagues.

“How dare you — you think we don’t have hearts? It’s just that when we look at the things that you're doing, and you're trying to do to America, we've seen the carnage,” he said, segueing into a common GOP trope which blames Democratic mayors in cities with large Black populations for the prevalence of gun violence there.

“Democrats control the major cities that have the worst murder rates — your ideas have been shown to get people killed,” he said as he began to accuse Democrats of being on the side of those who commit acts of violence in jurisdictions under their control.

“You here for the murderers, the murderers in Chicago, in Philadelphia in these other major cities, because you're wanting to do nationally, what is being done by Democrats in those big cities,” he said, adding that he and his GOP colleagues “care deeply” about the lives of victims of violence in those cities and calling Democrats “arrogant people” who were “attributing murder to those of us that want to do things to stop it” because — in his view — Democratic leaders in those cities are responsible for those murders.

Mr Gohmert also suggested the prevalence of mass shootings dating back to the 1966 University of Texas tower massacre stems from the 1962 Supreme Court ruling in Engel v Vitale, in which the court ruled that the US Constitution prohibits mandatory Christian prayer in public schools.

While Mr Gohmert and other Republicans leaned on the idea that Democratic mayors are responsible for high rates of gun crime as reason to oppose new restrictions on firearm purchasing, Pennsylvania Democrat Mary Gay Scanlon took issue with such an argument when she spoke just after her Texan colleague.

In response, Ms Scanlon noted that the Democratic-led municipal government in Philadelphia has no control over the laws enacted by the state legislature and signed by the governor.

“Apparently, he doesn't understand that the Commonwealth Republican legislature for decades has blocked city leadership from passing the types of common sense gun safety laws we are considering today,” she said.