The National  Memo Logo

Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.

Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

First it was National Rifle Association president Wayne LaPierre’s bizarre post-Sandy Hook press conference calling for armed guards at schools. Then it was an NRA ad targeting President Obama’s children. Then the NRA released a shooting videogame for ages four and up. But the latest act by gun extremists is perhaps the most disturbing — Neil Heslin, father of 6-year-old Newtown victim Jesse, was heckled while giving testimony about new gun laws before a Connecticut legislative committee in the state capital of Hartford.

Some media analysts are questioning the use of the word “heckling” because Heslin, who sat next to a large framed picture of himself with his slain son, asked the audience why anyone in the room would need assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. But the question was clearly rhetorical, because audience members are not allowed to comment at a public hearing. So when two people in the audience shouted back about the Second Amendment in violation of this rule, it would seem to be heckling, the definition of which is to “interrupt (a public speaker) with derisive or aggressive comments or abuse.”

Here is a transcript of the part of the testimony that the incident occurred. Click here for the full, unedited video of Heslin’s nearly 16-minute testimony. The exchange happens around the 13:30 mark.

Heslin: “Having a child that you lost. It’s not a good feeling. It’s not a good feeling to look at your child laying in a casket, or look at your child with a bullet wound to the forehead. I ask if there is anyone in this room that can give me one reason or challenge this question: Why anybody in this room needs to have one of these assault-style weapons or military weapons or high-capacity clips? Not one person can answer that question.”

Heckler 1: “The Second Amendment shall not be infringed.”

Heckler 2: “You cannot infringe on our rights.”

Panel chair: “Please, please, no comments while Mr. Heslin is speaking or we will clear the room. Mr. Heslin, please continue.”

Heslin: “We’re all entitled to our own opinion, and I respect their opinions and their thoughts. But I wish they’d respect mine and give it a little bit of thought, and realize that it could have been their child that was in that school that day.”

Photo credit: Associated Press/Jessica Hill

Advertising

Start your day with National Memo Newsletter

Know first.

The opinions that matter. Delivered to your inbox every morning

Sen. Bernie Sanders, left, and President Joe Biden during 2020 presidential debate

I look at September 2019 as a month where I missed something. We began with a trip to New York to do Seth Meyers’s and Dr. Oz’s shows. Why would we go on The Dr. Oz Show? For the same reason we had gone on Joe Rogan’s podcast in August: We could reach a vast audience that wasn’t paying attention to the standard political media. On Dr. Oz, Bernie could talk about Medicare for All and his own physical fitness. While at the time we believed Bernie was uncommonly healthy for his age, he was still 78. Questions would be raised related to his age, and we needed to begin building up the case that he was completely healthy and fit. It turned out to be a spectacular interview, ending with the two of them playing basketball on a makeshift court in the studio. Bernie appeared to be on top of the world.

Yet in retrospect, I should have seen Bernie growing more fatigued. After New York, with the school year starting, we did a series of rallies at colleges and universities in Iowa; this was the kickoff of our campus organizing program in the state. We would then fly to Colorado for a large rally in Denver before heading to Boulder to prep for the third debate, to take place in Houston on September 12. In Iowa, Bernie’s voice was a little hoarse. After the rally in Denver, he had completely blown it out. He sounded terrible.

Keep reading... Show less

Rep. James Clyburn

When I interviewed House Majority Whip James Clyburn in 2014 about his memoir Blessed Experiences: Genuinely Southern, Proudly Black, the South Carolina Democrat was confident in America’s ability to find its way, no matter how extreme the political swings might appear at any given time.

“The country from its inception is like the pendulum on a clock,” the congressman told me. “It goes back and forward. It tops out to the right and starts back to the left — it tops out to the left and starts back to the right.” And remember, he said, it “spends twice as much time in the center.”

Keep reading... Show less
{{ post.roar_specific_data.api_data.analytics }}