Skip to comments.Grassley statement at Judiciary Committee Business Meeting, Mark-up of Gun Violence Bills
Posted on 03/08/2013 12:50:50 PM PST by marktwain
Mr. Chairman, what happened at Newtown shocked the entire nation. We will never forget where we were and how we reacted when we learned that 20 very young children and 6 adults were killed that day. I cannot imagine how anyone would commit such an evil act. And I cannot even begin to know what it would be like to be a relative of one of those slain children.
We pray for the families who continue to mourn the loss of their loved ones. We pray for all victims of violence, gun or otherwise.
This Committee and a Subcommittee have held three hearings. While I believe that addressing violence requires examining more than guns, guns were the near exclusive focus of those hearings and will be the near exclusive focus of the bills the Committee has seen fit to mark up.
All of us were strongly affected by what happened at Newtown. All of us want to take effective action to prevent future tragedies. But we have different, deeply held approaches to do so.
What we are talking about now is freedom. Freedom not only guaranteed in the Constitution, but what the Supreme Court recognized is a preexisting right of self-defense. Individuals do not need the governments permission to defend themselves.
Today, gun violence rates are at their lowest levels in 50 years. This is a tremendous accomplishment. There are many reasons for it, including longer incarceration of dangerous criminals, abolition of parole, and police practices. This drop in gun violence has occurred even as there are more guns in the country than ever before. It has occurred after the Supreme Court has found the Second Amendment to be a fundamental right and after many states have increased the ability of law-abiding citizens to own guns. The drop has also occurred despite any new federal gun control enactments in almost 20 years.
But a majority of the Committee seems determined to impose more gun restrictions on law-abiding citizens. Consider the assault weapons ban. This bill represents the biggest gun ban proposal in our history. A similar ban was enacted in 1994. And the Justice Departments own studies failed to show that the ban had any effect.
Some of my colleagues speak like Donald Rumsfeld on this point absence of evidence isnt evidence of absence. But the assault weapons ban did not work. And just this year, the Deputy Director of NIJ wrote that an assault weapon ban is unlikely to have an impact on gun violence.
But rather than trying something different, the first bill on the agenda is an assault weapons ban. It is based on how the guns look. An AR-15 is prohibited while a mini-14 is exempt because one has a wooden stock and the other a plastic one. Other guns that are more powerful than the prohibited guns are exempted. The guns that it bans are not ones that are used in the military, as they are semi-automatic. They are in common use. And banning large capacity magazines also fails rational basis scrutiny when the bill exempts a class of shotguns that can be continuously reloaded.
The bill is not like passing a law that criminalizes speeding. It is like banning the manufacture of cars with hood ornaments from having the capacity of exceeding 65 miles per hour while exempting trucks from the same requirement.
At the hearings, the Justice Department did not endorse a specific ban but said that nonetheless that a ban could be constitutional. They did not suggest what level of scrutiny courts would apply to a bill with Second Amendment implications. They also said they would develop an analysis of the bans constitutionality. But it speaks volumes when we are about to mark up such a bill and that analysis is not forthcoming.
I think it is necessary to point out that had this bill been law at the time, Sandy Hook still would have happened. It would not have stopped a mentally disturbed person from stealing a gun that this bill would have not banned from his mother, and then shooting unarmed children at an elementary school for several minutes before police arrived.
On background checks, without notice, we were given an entirely new bill to consider late yesterday. I know the sponsor says he does not intend to create a national gun registry and I accept that that is his intent. I would just say that the Deputy Director of NIJ recently wrote that universal background checks can be enforced only if there is gun registration.
I note that at the hearings, some stated that criminals are foiled from buying guns because they do not go to gun stores to buy guns. They recognize that prohibited persons do not now submit to background checks, although they obtain guns, which is why they want to expand checks. But they fail to recognize that criminals wont be any more likely to submit to expanded background checks than they are to current ones. They will go around supposedly universal checks to steal guns or buy them on the black market. When universal background checks dont work, then registration will be proposed to enforce them. And when that doesnt work, because criminals wont register their guns, we may be looking at confiscation.
There is a refusal to consider that gun control on law-abiding citizens does not work. If gun control worked, we would expect to see that places with stricter gun laws would have less crime than those where it was easier for law abiding citizens to have guns.
Instead, law-abiding citizens obey the laws and criminals dont. And those areas with gun control often have more crime. Under federalism, states and localities are laboratories of experimentation. Results of different approaches come in. And then the federal government learns which laws work better than others as it considers national legislation. But that is not what is argued for gun control.
We are asked to adopt nationally the policies that have not worked at the state or local level. We are told that poor results in places with gun control are due to more lenient gun rules elsewhere. But if that were true, one would expect more crime in the suburbs where guns are lawfully available than in the cities where they are not -- and in the states where guns are more easily able to be purchased than in the states where they are not. However, this is not the case.
Restrictions on gun rights of law-abiding citizens do not work. Again, rather than trying a different approach, supporters of gun control not only want to double down on a failed strategy, they want to impose it on the nation as a whole despite the Second Amendment.
I do think that action can be taken on gun trafficking and straw purchasing. And because those are actions by criminals and occur across state lines, I am glad that we have a bill on that subject on the agenda. I appreciate the efforts of the Chairman and other senators to be receptive to changes to the original legislation. I will have more to say about that bill when it comes up.
The final bill on the agenda is a school safety bill. That bill originally had an enormous cost at a time when we are entering a sequester. However, Senator Boxer and Senator Warner, the bills sponsors, have shown flexibility on spending amounts and other issues. I appreciate their efforts as well.
Mr. Chairman, Republicans are not delaying committee action on these bills. Not meaning any criticism, they were not ready for consideration last week. We will raise a fairly small number of amendments, which is how the committee process is supposed to work. We are not standing in the way of any of these bills from being voted on in a timely way.
A number of members on the Democrats side made statements about these bills last week. I know that a number of our members want to be heard on these points as well. We will have to make some time for statements, and they will need to happen before debate.
Well, why worry about the MSM when we have plenty of folks right here on FR who love to rip on Grassley who is a very fine senator. This country is better because Grassley is in DC. I’m proud to call him my senator. My apologies about Harkin, however.
Excellent. Let’s hope that Senator Grassley can get the rest of the GOP to sing from the same hymnal.
I think I said “excellent” too soon. I finished reading the article and while I like most of it, he still makes me nervous near the end.
While watching the 3/7/2013 Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on proposed amendments to the Feinstein/Schumer bill to destroy the Second Amendment, I was struck by the at least the superficial differences between the Dems and the Pubbies.
Senator Grassley proposed an amendment requiring the DOJ to report the disposition of each and every firearm related crime. The amendment was an effort to get answers to why so few of the already illegal crimes committed with firearms are not fully prosecuted. It was also an attempt to spotlight the data rich fact that, if CURRENTLY ILLEGAL FIREARMS CRIMES are not being punished, does any sane person think Feinsteins idiotic feel-good, Second Amendment trashing bill will do anything except punish the LAW-ABIDING gun owner and, ultimately, disarm us, permitting these utopian progressives to have their way with us as their personal lab rats without fear of meaningful and effective resistance?
After Feinstein and a few other Dems objected on the basis that the amendment would have the DOJs people filing forms instead of prosecuting crimes (which they are not doing very well or often now), the amendment failed.
Among the Dems who objected was Durbin of Illinois. He remarked that one area of his state had a murder rate 18 times that of the rest of the nation and that budget cuts (the old sequestration gambit again) had so crippled the US Attorneys office there that they solicited attorneys in the area to work as unpaid volunteers to assist with their overwhelming caseload.
I actually sort of lost it as I wanted to yell at the TV If your crumby state would permit concealed carry, what do you bet the murder rate would drop dramatically as many of these thugs now killing the citizens youve disarmed might solve the caseload problem right there on the spot, also saving the state trial and incarceration costs.
That said, there would probably be a need for more morgue attendants, thereby helping with the unemployment situation.
At least until the bulk of the thugs had been dispatched to hell or figured out that the mortality rate in their vocation prompted them to find other work.
It was a good statement and as much as I loathe Grahamnesty he also put up a good argument agains’t the bill just before Grassley came on.
Senator Grassley should have asked several more questions. Gentlemen, at a time when taxes are being increased, Americans are being spied on and in some cases killed by their government, property and freedom from unwarranted search rights are being trampled, and legislators are refusing to uphold the Constitution, do you really believe Americans will be willing to give up their arms without a fight? There are basically two classes of Americans; progressives who live in an ideal world and think things will work just because they say so, and conservatives who realize hard work is necessary and that reality is a “bitch”. Progressives are much like loyalists of the American Revolution, that is, they are content to let the government rule their lives, while conservatives are like the rebels of old, desiring the right to live their lives with minimal government intervention. When push came to shove, which side prevailed in the American Revolution? Which side do you think will prevail if our government continues to take away rights guaranteed in the Constitution and Bill of Rights?