Iowans fed up over inaction on gun reform in the wake of multiple new mass shootings, including the Uvalde, Texas elementary school massacre, let Sen. Chuck Grassley have it at his town hall meeting in Columbus Junction yesterday.
About 20 people were in the audience at his Louisa County forum—smaller crowds typically result in more subdued discussion at Grassley events, but that was not the case here. Multiple attendees pushed back, interrupted and called out Grassley’s role in blocking gun safety legislation from coming to the Senate floor.
“You have been filibustering gun reform,” one woman said near the start of the forum. “My daughter’s a teacher, my daughter-in-law is a teacher, you are risking their lives.”
Grassley began his response by lamenting the loss of life in Texas.
“It’s a sad commentary when we have somebody who can kill all the kids that were killed, you’d think the safest place to go, to send your kids to school is the safest place,” he said.
Several audience members pressed Grassley multiple times over what new gun safety measures he’d be open to supporting, but Grassley repeatedly avoided committing to supporting or opposing any particular idea. He insisted he wanted to wait to see what the legislative negotiations between Republican Sen. John Cornyn of Texas and Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut produced. Grassley believed that withholding public judgement on any potential fix would help the negotiations advance.
“Yesterday, they had a meeting by Zoom and they had very positive results, and they think they have a framework put together that something can be done to stop this violence through some gun legislation and through some school safety issues,” Grassley explained. “To answer your question, I’m going to wait until they report next week before I decide what I’m going to do.”
He defended his past vote to provide legal immunity to gun manufactures, saying, “I voted for it because I believe an honest business ought not to be sued for something that somebody else does.” Attendees pointed out that almost no other companies are given similar protections.
One man suggested banning the sale of AR-15 rifles, which he described as “they’re there to kill people.” Grassley noted that there’s over 15 million AR-15s already out in the country (the number may be closer to 20 million).
“You’re still going to have AR-15s even if you stop selling them right now,” Grassley said.
“The answer is not to do nothing!” one woman in the back of the room yelled in response.
Here too, Grassley avoided giving his current stance on the issue, again deferring to ongoing legislative negotiations, but he added an assault rifle ban likely won’t be on the table.
“The answer to your question is a process answer,” he said. “Whatever we do through the Cornyn/Murphy cooperative effort to make schools safe and do what you can with guns, that probably would not get 60 votes.”
When asked by another attendee about whether the CDC could at least fund a study on gun violence, Grassley pivoted his answer to the appropriations process, eventually saying that he could mention it to senators on the Senate Appropriations Committee. During his answer, Grassley went on a tangent of how appropriations omnibus bills often now come with a threat of shutting down the government, which Grassley said was a “stupid thing to do,” though he stopped to note that he has voted to shut it down in the past.
Grassley was asked by a woman in a Moms Demand Action shirt if he supported raising the age limit for purchasing an AR-15 (the Uvalde shooter purchased two AR-style rifles right around his 18th birthday).
“Instead of giving you an opinion, I’ll give you how I approach it—the 2nd Amendment, as part of the Bill of Rights, are just as important as any other sections of the Bill of Rights, and I’m going to look at any gun legislation and any Red Flag laws,” Grassley said, adding that he was looking for due process protections for Red Flag-type legislation.
“By the way, you’re talking to somebody that doesn’t know much about guns because I haven’t shot a gun in probably 20, 40 or 50 years,” Grassley continued. “I’ve got one little gun that hasn’t been shot during that period of times. So you aren’t talking to someone who loves guns, I don’t hate guns, but I do protect people’s constitutional rights.”
He also noted that several states already have some restrictions on purchasing AR-15s.
“Should we do it at the federal level or the state level? I guess I go back to my comments I’ve been making ever since Cornyn and Murphy was put on this, I’m going to wait and see what they come up with,” Grassley reiterated after the meeting to Starting Line. “I don’t even know whether it’ll be in their package, and if it’s not in their package, it’s not going to go anywhere anyway … I think it’d be wrong for me to say I’m not open to everything that might be on the table, but then you pick and choose what you can get 60 votes for.”
Near the end of the forum, Max Hilton, 64, a general contractor who lives in North Liberty, pressed Grassley on the overall lack of action Iowans are seeing in DC and the growing danger from a stalemate.
“Nothing’s progressed I’d say for 40 years. We’ve been in stasis,” Hilton said to Grassley. “We haven’t fixed guns. We haven’t fixed drugs. We haven’t fixed social injustice. We haven’t fixed the immigration system. I’m not indicting you personally, I’m indicting the whole group.”
Hilton added that he felt some people were buying up AR-15s because they’re preparing—and hoping—for a civil war.
“You guys need to get it together,” Hilton said. “Because if you don’t get it together, there’s some people out amongst us that are going to become more violent. And we are this close to that happening. One more election like we just had, and these shenanigans that gone on for two years with people, ‘well I’m not sure it’s a fair election or not’ … that stuff’s gotta stop.”
Grassley replied by emphasizing the need for bipartisanship, but that it was difficult to get things passed with a 60-vote threshold—multiple attendees pushed back on his use of the filibuster throughout the meeting.
“Now you’ve hamstrung yourself with the rules,” Hilton observed.
by Pat Rynard
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11 Comments on "Anger On Gun Violence Boils Over At Grassley Town Hall"
He treats these ppl as if they’re stupid! Never answers a question, deflects, changes the subject, repeats the same answer etc. Blows them off. He of course knows the answers to their questions. He just refuses to discuss it. By not commiting he’s protected when the 2 who are responsible for an agreement come out with it . He can say, well I really tried and talk about how great he is ,blah, blah, blah. Word salad. Talks and says nothing. There should be term limits on Congress as well as SCOTUS. They are not held responsible for anything. Buys time to stay elected so as to milk the system a little longer and cash in on some more donations from corporations. They all make me sick. What a sorry lot of louts we have as representatives of the ppl. These old guys who have been in Congress for 50 yrs, wheeling & dealing all their life absolutely disgust me! The same BS from all of them.
Chuck says there are 15-20 million AR-15s out there right now and legislation won’t change that. It won’t but it means there won’t be any more out there. I have a great way to take care of the guns that are out there, Chuck. Ban the manufacture and sale of ammunition for AR-15s.
In 2017 Grassely and other repubs voted to let people with mental illness to purchase guns!!
So just how crazy is that??? It has cost the lives of countless kids and innocents!!!
Just yesterday (6/2) a man went out and purchased ammo on Wednesday, and killed 2 women and himself on Thursday … IN A CHURCH PARKING LOT IN AMES IOWA!!
At a minimum we need waiting periods to purchase guns and ammo!
Grassley says there are 15-20 million AR-15s in the US and banning them won’t diminish that number, but by banning their sale we ensure there will be no more than that. The next step is ban ammunition sales for these weapons. That is pretty simple Chuck.
At you’re ripe age Mr. Grassley just ‘how much skin do you have left in the game’? Hardly comparable to a eight year olds life span…..you sound foolish
Senator Grassley has shown himself as one driven to ingratiate himself to his audience no matter what. That’s how he’s gotten re-elected, time and again, to our detriment. His acquiescence to the Tea Party crowd got my attention back in the day when he showed no spine. And his recent “I’d be a fool to refuse his endorsement” speech in Trump’s presence really drove the point home.
Now, to keep from openly taking a stand against gun violence, he kept deferring to McConnell and Cornyn, knowing full well that Cornyn has already tweeted that he won’t do anything. And his own record shows he’ll be intransigent.
Finally, his “I haven’t shot a gun in ages” comment is the worst.
There’s a term for that kind of person: weasel.
Three primary things have filtered out since Columbine to this week:
1: Secure the building! This is everyone’s responsibility at the school . . . and the door was left propped open and did not have the ability to lock. Nothing that DC will do can affect negligence of the staff – period.
2: After Columbine the nationwide policy of police departments was that in an active shooter event, the first officer on scene makes entry – period. Sorry, you drew the short straw that day – get your ass through the door. Nothing that DC will do can make the officer “grow a set” in time to make entry.
3: If someone acts “hinkey” on social media – see something, say something. There seems to have been multiple posts by this guy saying he was going to shoot up a school . . . multiple posts. Nothing that DC will do can make folks call the authorities and say . . . “Hey, this guy is threatening to shoot up a school!”
What DC will do is to dance on the graves of children, puff up their chests and try to enact “common sense gun laws.” Which will do nothing except to penalize law abiding citizens.
I wish “they” would simply shut their mouths, let these poor families work through their grief, stop defunding the police, use part of the $40 BILLION to the Ukraine to place armed and experienced vets in schools and make darn sure every police department in the country actually trains . . . and I mean TRAINS – not this 100-rounds A YEAR crap when it’s time to qualify – their departments in the use of their carry weapons.
Don’t even get me started on the lack of respect of the teachers by the students and parents and the complete inability to discipline unruly students. What happened is NOT ABOUT GUNS . . . it’s about the dissolution of our society.
Lack of fathers is one canary. Year-long marriages are a second canary. Throwing church in the trash Bin is a third canary. Hating the police – why the hell should they do the job they were hired to do if everyone hates them – is a fourth canary. Flushing mental healthcare in communities is a fifth canary. Putting every fricking hyper kid on meds rather than letting them be kids is a sixth canary. Allowing “teachers” to “help” elementary children DECIDE IF THEY ARE FRICKIN’ BOYS OR GIRLS . . . that is a FRICKINI’ MOOSE standing in your living room!!!!!
And an adult – an 18-year-old man – with a loaded gun, who has been so abused, ignored, beaten down that NO ONE NOTICES HIM until he kills 14 kids and 2 teachers . . . that . . . that right there is what all these canaries and the moose result in. It’s NOT THE FRICKIN’ GUN . . . it’s the society and its effect on its citizens that is the REAL PROBLEM. And THAT IS WHAT NEEDS YOUR FRICKIN’ ATTENTION . . . not the guns.
I need a drink . . . peace folks . . .
You people live in a fantasy world, here is a dose of reality, you can ban every assault rifle in the country & pass background checks that requires a 30 day wait period & a mental health exam b4 you can purchase a firearm & it will stop nothing. I can leave my house & in 3 hours come back with 2 45 semi automatic pistols with 8 round clips plus 4 spare clips & 200 rounds of ammo & a sawed off 20 gauge pump shotgun with extended magazine capable of spreading bird shot 15′ wide & 50 rounds. All unregistered and lethal & what will stop me from walking into any school in your town? How many people can I kill or wound with that shotgun? Tell me because I really want to know, how are you going to stop me? Your not, your teachers aren’t your police aren’t. I can walk in any door any time of the day & even if they do lock doors except one I’m still walking in armed to the teeth. The only way to stop this is by installing metal detectors at the main doors & lock all others & to hire armed security guards to patrol the school grounds & hallway and to be posted at the door to escort any visitors to the office. Stop trying to take away any guns right now & protect the kids first. I just told you that criminals never buy guns legally or at gun shows. Unless you stop trying to pass gun control laws & pass school safety laws your true goal isn’t the kids its about getting rid of guns.
Grassley is complicit in the murders of the two women in the Ames church parking lot as well as all the other senseless deaths by gun violence! Shame on him…!
Instead of so freely giving yours and every other citizens rights away, how about putting to use and exercising your own 2nd ammendment right by owning a fire arm. Learn how it can be usefull defensive tool. How about educating yourself on what an AR-15 really is. What you are calling an assault weapon and weapon of war is not factual. It is a talking point that you have been brainwashed to believe because of bias meda. Research high crime areas vs lower crime ares and compare gun control vs citizens right to self defense in those areas. Gun free zones are targets for criminal element because there is no opposition.
No republican legislator will vote to protect our kids or teachers, and the reason is NOT the 1st amendment! It is $dollars that get contributed to them and votes they will get…