GOP Sen. John Kennedy compares gun violence to drunk driving in hearing after Colorado shooting: 'The answer is not to get rid of all sober drivers'

sen. john neely kennedy
Sen. John Kennedy, R-La. Mandel Ngan/Pool via AP
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  • Sen. John Kennedy of Louisiana compared the issue of gun violence to drunk driving on Tuesday.

  • "We have a lot of drunk drivers," the GOP senator said. "We ought to try to combat that too."

  • Kennedy's comments come after 18 people were killed in mass shootings in the past week.

  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

Republican Sen. John Kennedy of Louisiana on Tuesday suggested that the issue of gun violence is overblown and should be put "in perspective," hours after the United States suffered its second mass shooting in a week.

"We have a lot of drunk drivers in America that kill a lot of people," Kennedy said during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on gun violence. "We ought to try to combat that too."

"The answer is not to get rid of all sober drivers," Kennedy continued. "The answer is to concentrate on the problem."

Kennedy further attempted to downplay the matter by drawing comparisons between being a gun owner to being Muslim.

"When a Muslim jihadist blows up a school full of school children, we are often told not to condemn all of the actions of those of the Muslim faith because of the actions of a few. And I agree with that," Kennedy said. "So why doesn't the same rule apply to the 100 million-plus gun owners in America who are exercising their constitutional right?"

Kennedy's comments come after 10 people, including a police officer, were killed in a mass shooting in Boulder, Colorado on Monday, and after eight people lost their lives in three shootings in Georgia last Tuesday.

The Republican senator acknowledged that "what has happened in the last few days" and "what's happened in the last years" regarding gun violence is "of course, tragic."

The American Public Health Associated has labeled gun violence a public health crisis and one of the leading causes of pre-mature death in the United States. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported over 39,000 firearm-related deaths in 2019.

Earlier this month the House passed legislation that would expand background check requirements on gun sales and transfers and close a loophole to make transactions between unlicensed individuals illegal. Eight Republicans supported the bill, known as the Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2021.

But most Republicans, like Kennedy, have criticized gun-safety measures as making it more difficult for law-abiding citizens to buy guns. Republicans have also often stoked fears that Democrats are trying to take guns away from their current owners.

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