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What If Congress Treated Gun Violence Like It Treated The Benghazi Attack?

The Huffington Post The Huffington Post 9/10/2015 Arthur Delaney
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WASHINGTON -- Mass shootings keep happening, and now there's a familiar pattern: Politicians of all stripes share their thoughts and prayers and then toss some Democratic gun control bills in the trash before moving on. 

Some Democrats now want Congress to break the pattern by creating an investigative committee like the one Republicans established following the 2012 attacks in Benghazi, Libya. 

"I think it's time we elevate this and make sure the elected leaders in this country start paying attention," Rep. Mike Thompson (D-Calif.) told HuffPost's "So That Happened" podcast. 

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) suggested a gun violence committee last week, and on Thursday Thompson introduced legislation to make it happen.

"They set up a select committee for [Benghazi], they've now established a select committee to go after Planned Parenthood, and it seems most appropriate that something that's real -- the issue of gun violence -- something that hits our communities, makes our children unsafe, our communities unsafe on an ongoing basis, is a legitimate reason to establish a select committee," Thompson said. 

A Republican aide scoffed at the idea, telling HuffPost it merely proved the Benghazi committee had been effective. 

Congress has occasionally created ad hoc committees to address emerging issues that don't fit neatly into the jurisdiction of one committee or another. Prior to the Benghazi and Planned Parenthood committees, lawmakers designated special panels to investigate the response to Hurricane Katrina and the creation of the Department of Homeland Security. 

Thompson proposes a committee made up of six Republicans and six Democrats, who would investigate the causes of gun violence and recommend solutions.

Some commentators outside of Congress have suggested gun control advocates take a page from anti-abortion activists by showing graphic photos of the aftermath of gun violence. Thompson declined to endorse that approach. 

"I don't think you have to show any grisly photographs to know that this is an epidemic," he said. "It's a health epidemic, it's a public safety epidemic. It's a huge, huge problem in all of our communities and what we're finding out, what we're seeing on a daily basis is that no community is safe from this."

Forty percent of Americans know someone who was killed with a gun, according to a new HuffPost/YouGov poll, though poll respondents still underestimated the number of people who die from gun violence each year. Guns killed more than 30,000 people in 2013, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

This podcast was produced and edited by Adriana Usero and Peter James Callahan, and engineered by Brad Shannon, with assistance from Christine Conetta.

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