WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 25: Dayton, Ohio Mayor Nan Whaley testifies before the House Judiciary Committee during a hearing on assault weapons in the Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill September 25, 2019 in Washington, DC. During the hearing titled Protecting America from Assault Weapons, the committee heard testimony from politicians, physicians, lobbyists and others about the type of weapon used in many of the recent mass shootings. Colt announced last week that it is suspending manufacture of its popular AR-15 rifle for consumers, but will still make them for military and law enforcement. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Whaley to Congress regarding mass shooting: ‘Our whole city is hurting’

“In those 32 seconds, the shooter’s weapon did exactly what it was designed to do – kill or injure as many people as possible in the shortest amount of time,” she told the House Judiciary Committee in a hearing on the impact of assault weapons.

Related: Oregon District Mass Shooting

She added, “Our whole city is hurting. All because a young man with a history of violent ideas could get his hands on a weapon capable of such destruction.”

Whaley was among seven witnesses — five of whom advocated for restrictions on assault weapons and two of whom argued for gun rights. She said she favors legislation to place a nationwide ban on assault weapons.

Whaley, a Democrat, said the best way to honor brave first responders who took down Oregon District shooter Connor Betts is to make changes so police do “not have to confront a weapon that can kill nine people in 32 seconds.”

The mayor described the mental scars that the shooting left on Dayton, saying young people talk about their new fear of crowds, Oregon District bartenders are anxious when they hear sirens and others dread the sound of fireworks.

Related: Ohio mayors, police chiefs call for changes to state gun laws

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Dianna Muller, a retired police officer whose second career is as a professional shooter and head of The DC Project, told the committee that political leaders should back educational programs, not more laws governing firearms.

Amy Swearer, a senior legal policy analyst for the Heritage Foundation, said restricting “scary looking” firearms isn’t the answer and would penalize law abiding Americans who choose assault weapons for self-defense.

U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Urbana, a member of the committee, asked Muller if a ban on assault weapons is the first step toward Democrat Beto O’Rourke and others taking away firearms from law abiding citizens. During the last Democratic presidential debate, O’Rourke, of El Paso yelled, “Hell yes we’re going to take your AR-15s,” in response to a question about assault rifles.

“Mr. O’Rourke probably did expose a plan that they have been denying for so long but we feel it, we know it. You can call it whatever you want but we know it’s a slippery slope,” Muller responded.

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