Nightly News   |  February 27, 2013

High emotion at assault weapons hearing

At Wednesday’s assault weapons hearing, Neil Heslin, the father of slain 6-year-old Jesse Lewis who was shot and killed during the Newtown shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, gave raw and gut-wrenching testimony saying it’s time to ban assault weapons. NBC’s Tom Costello reports.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> back to washington. there was a senate hearing today on the question of banning assault weapons and high-capacity ammo clips. and it became apparent early on the emotions on this subject are still boiling, as they were on the day we learned of the attack in newtown, connecticut. our report tonight from nbc's tom costello.

>> reporter: on capitol hill , it was raw and gut-wrenching.

>> i'm jesse lewis' dad.

>> reporter: the father of 6-year-old jesse lewis, a first grader, gunned down at sandy hook elementary with 19 classmates and 6 adults.

>> jesse was the love of my life . he is the only family i have left. it's hard for me to be here today. to talk about my deceased son. but i have to. i'm his voice.

>> reporter: neil his lund today called for a ban on assault weapons . emotions ran high all day.

>> it's time for congress to pick a side. this time i hope it's law enforcement 's.

>> reporter: the milwaukee police chief got into it with republican senator lindsey graham , who today said he owns a so-called assault weapon over the need for background checks on people who want to buy a gun.

>> how many cases --

>> you know, it doesn't matter. it's a paper thing. i want to stop 76 -- i want to finish the answer.

>> no.

>> i want to stop 76,000 people from buying guns illegally. that's what a background check does. if you think we're going to do paperwork prosecutions, you're wrong.

>> isn't it really about who has the gun sometimes more than the gun itself?

>> reporter: meanwhile, the vice president went before state attorneys general to again push for gun legislation.

>> the excuse that it's too politically risky to act is no longer acceptable.

>> reporter: with wree motions running high on both sides, an assault weapons ban faces an uphill battle. tom costello, nbc news washington.