Clay Higgins plants ‘seeds of violence’ at assault weapons hearing as victims tell their stories

So-called Cajun John Wayne was back on Wednesday, only now he wasn’t a cop who resigned from a Louisiana police department while facing disciplinary charges for lying about brutalizing someone ‘a.

And Higgins clay‘ Harsh talk was no longer aimed at fugitive felons, like when he made viral crime-stopping videos in the second of two Louisiana police departments that later hired him.

Higgins had taken advantage of the attention he received from the videos to get himself elected U.S. Representative from Louisiana’s 3rd congressional district. He spoke as a member of the House Oversight and Reform Committee during Wednesday’s assault weapons hearing. He argued that Democrats were seeking to circumvent the Second Amendment with an assault weapons ban, and he envisioned loud gunfights between gun owners and federal agents.

In the opinion of his former Opelousas Police Department boss, retired Chief Perry Gallow, what might have been just a theatrical bluster about Higgins’ former life as a ravine Cajun cop constituted a dangerous speech from a political leader in perilous times. And Higgins was doing it in a hearing that included two witnesses who had survived a mass shooting and three others who had lost loved ones.

“In my opinion, the congressman should choose his words wisely, because his words matter, and there are people who are on the edge and could retaliate based on his words and the words of anyone who might suggest it,” Gallow said.

The Democratic leadership made its own use of the video at the start of the hearing with three intense minutes of brief statements from people directly affected by the mass shootings with assault weapons. It started with the massacre of 20 children and four adults in Newtown, Connecticut.

“Hi, my name is Nicole, and almost 10 years ago I survived the Sandy Hook shooting at my elementary school, when I was just 7 years old,” said the first witness to appear. on the screen. “Still to this day, I struggle with the horrific consequences.”

Nicole Melchionna was followed by David Sallak, who survived the filming during the 4th of July Parade in Highland Park, Illinois, which killed seven people. Two-year-old Aiden McCarthy was instantly orphaned. Eight years Cooper Roberts was paralyzed.

“Our family was on parade when I saw the gunman emerge above the second story roofline and point his long gun at my family and those around us and shoot quickly,” Sallak said. “I threw my wife and son behind a metal park bench to save our lives. After the shooting stopped, I saw Cooper Roberts’ father standing there screaming for help, while my wife saw their son Cooper convulse on the ground, hit in the abdomen and spine.

Then came another Highland Park survivor, Ashbey Beasley.

“As we ran with our hands clasped, not knowing if someone was going to shoot us and if we were going to live or die, my son lost a lot of his innocence,” she said. “He’s not the same person. He’s broken and every day my husband and I are heartbroken as we try to help him back to being the carefree, sweet little boy he was before this happened. arrived.

Next is a teenager whose sister was one of 19 children murdered in Texas in May.

“Hello, I am Jasmine Cazares. I’m 17 and lost my little sister, Jackie, in the Robb Elementary shooting in Uvalde. “

She held up a picture of Jacklyn Cazares in a white, photoshopped dress with angel wings.

“This photo was taken during her first communion on May 10,” said Jasmine Cazares. “Sixteen days later, she was shot and killed [by] to Daniel Defense AR-15.

Next comes a mother from Uvalde.

“My name is Ana Rodríguez. I lost my daughter, Maite Rodriguez, on May 24, 2022, in the Robb School shooting. Maite was a sweet 10-year-old girl who dreamed of attending Texas A&M University in Corpus Christi to pursue a career in marine biology.Maite has been robbed of her future because of gun violence.

Felix Rubio and Kimberly Rubio hold a photo of their late daughter Alexandria Rubio, who was killed in the mass shooting in Uvalde, Texas, as they attend a July 27 House Oversight Committee hearing.

Drew Angerer/Getty

There was also the father of 14-year-old Jaime Guttenberg, who died in the mass shooting at Parkland High School in Florida.

“My name is Fred Guttenberg. I am the father of Jesse and Jaime Guttenberg. On February 14, 2018, I sent my two children to school to learn safely. Towards the end of the day, a gunman showed up at my daughter’s school killing 17. My daughter was one of the 17 killed.

There was also Tracey Maciulewicz, whose fiancé, Andre Mackniel, was one of 10 shot and killed at Tops supermarket in Buffalo.

“My fiancé was shot and killed on May 14 by a white supremacist while on his way to Tops to buy our son a birthday cake. The shooter killed my fiancé with a Bushmaster X 15 rifle.”

Maciulewicz had her 3-year-old son in her lap as she posed a video question to the two gun company CEOs who had agreed to testify remotely.

“What are you going to do…” she started to ask, fighting back tears.

Her son took her in his arms and said, “It’s good.

“….to ensure that your products never again fall into the hands of a white supremacist mass shooter who will kidnap the father of a child?”

The response from CEOs, Marty Daniel of Daniel Defense and Christopher Killoy of Sturm, Ruger & Company, was essentially that they would do nothing at all but market and sell ever more assault weapons. Daniel seemed good about himself even though he had just overheard a mother say that her daughter had been killed by a gun he made that bears his name.

Committee members asked questions and offered opinions that matched their previously expressed opinions on assault weapons. Rep Andrew Clyde (R-GA) owns a gun shop called Clyde Armory in Athens, and he’s harmonized with the CEOs.

But that wasn’t enough for Higgins of Louisiana. Cajun John Wayne has predicted widespread bloodshed between gun owners and law enforcement if supporters of legislation banning the sale of assault weapons manage to push it through the House . It’s not a sure thing, and it seems unlikely that it will pass the Senate. But the mere prospect of it becoming law enraged Higgins.

“What my colleagues are doing is really, incredibly beyond anything reasonable or constitutional. All we’re looking at here is a seizure of guns from the homes of law-abiding American citizens who purchased those guns legally. You organize shootings in the homes of Americans. He continued:

“When do you think the ATF and the FBI are coming to our house?” In the dead of night. You stage shootouts between US citizens defending their homes from darkness, clearly armed, entering our home, onto our porch, and through our door. You prepare for death.

He invoked an immediate future “of Americans killing Americans for a fantasy that you can define what a dangerous weapon is in the hands of these Americans, living beyond their true right to exercise their own decisions over the type of firearm they legally purchase and possess. It’s crazy. What you push, it’s not going to end well. You can get this bill through by a party-line vote, but Americans aren’t going to sit back and allow it without a response.

A Smith & Wesson semi-automatic firearm is seen on a display during the July 27 House surveillance hearing.

Elizabeth Frantz/Reuters

He snapped his fingers as he continued.

“People make decisions like that. Again, in the middle of the night.

He spoke as if he were the voice of experience.

“You are doing extreme stuff and you are 100% responsible for it. My colleagues in the Democratic Party, when these shootings take place, that blood will be on your hands. »

He called the proposed ban “a political charade of pretending to be able to identify the weapons you know best from your ivory tower in Washington.” I can define the weapons that Americans shouldn’t have the right to. You can’t buy a tank or have it over 50 caliber. You carry small arms and you own them. We own them legally. We intend to keep them.

He said the committee was heading “down a rabbit hole from which there is no escaping”.

“Ultimately, it ends with an American citizen standing up to defend that freedom… Will it be litigated in court or will it be settled on the front steps of Americans when the FBI and ATF show up for seize guns lawfully held by a law-abiding U.S. citizen?”

During part of his time with the Opelousas Police, Higgins was part of the SWAT team and served search warrants. His career there ended after a drug raid where he allegedly grabbed a passerby by the hair and then punched him. He didn’t help himself with what was seen as an attempted cover-up

“Clay Higgins used unnecessary force on a subject while executing a warrant and then made false statements during an internal investigation. Although he later recanted and admitted to striking a suspect with handcuffs and later releasing him,” the department’s Discipline Review Board concluded.

I think it’s irresponsible. And it’s disheartening when our leaders sow the seeds of violence.

Retired Opelousas Police Chief Perry Gallow

Higgins did not respond to a request for comment from The Daily Beast. But in the version he has later offered to the local presshe was kicked out of the department after being heard calling Chief Gallow a “peacock”.

“There’s a little more to it,” Gallow told The Daily Beast on Wednesday afternoon.

When briefed on Higgins’ dramatic speech about widespread bloodshed over an assault weapons ban, Gallow at first suggested that Higgins was merely dramatic for effect.

“As it often is,” Gallow said. “I know there’s drama in politics right now, and it’s doing it well.”

But shortly after speaking to The Daily Beast, Gallow called back. He had read an account online of Higgins being questioned outside the courtroom by Beasley, the survivor of Highland Park.

As reported by CNN, Beasley told Higgins he was wrong to think the Democrats on the committee were just there to grab guns from law-abiding Americans.

“If you don’t think these guys in this body…if you don’t think they’re going door to door grabbing your guns, you’re wrong,” Higgins told him.

“Have you ever run from a mass shooter because you were being shot at?” Beasley asked.

According to the report, Higgins told him he had been a SWAT officer for 12 years, which Gallow suggests is an exaggeration.

“So you don’t know what it does?” Beasley asked.

Higgins didn’t respond, perhaps because he doesn’t actually know what it feels like. Gallow said that to his knowledge, Higgins had never been involved in a shooting. Gallow fears that Higgins’ language is driving one.

“I think it’s irresponsible,” Gallow said. “And it’s disheartening when our leaders sow the seeds of violence.”

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