Most Republicans in the U.S. Senate — including Joni Ernst and Chuck Grassley — joined last night to vote for NRA-backed measures and reject Democratic alternatives proposed after the mass shooting in Orlando. In the end, all four gun-related proposals failed to win enough support in the Senate to advance.
Grassley said the proposals from Democrats didn’t protect the “fundamental constitutional right” to keep and bear arms.
“The problem isn’t guns because the Orlando mass murders…the instruments used there were legally purchased,” Grassley said this morning in a conference call with Iowa radio reporters. “The problem is that we aren’t focusing on the real problem which is radical Islamic terrorism. You’ve got to keep your eye on the ball.”
Senator Ernst issued a written statement, saying “laws will not deter terrorists” and the U.S. must “get serious” about combatting terrorism overseas and here at home.
Grassley was the lead sponsor of one GOP proposal. It called for the nation’s attorney general to study what causes mass shootings and it would have dedicated more money to the federal background check system and required states to submit more information. Democrats say it failed to expand background checks. A Democratic proposal called for denying gun sales to people on the so-called “no fly” list, but Grassley said the lists are flawed and the “due process rights” of those individuals would have been violated.
“You can’t compromise that anymore than you can compromise free speech for some reason you don’t like or 4th Amendment privacy rights for something you don’t like,” Grassley said. “We’re talking about the Constitution of the United States being followed.”
Grassley and other Republicans will meet privately early this afternoon to discuss another gun-related measure that’s being proposed by a Pennsylvania senator who’s in a tough re-election fight.
“And there, again, the same issues will come up and we haven’t gotten into the details of those yet,” Grassley said.
Grassley is seeking reelection, too. His Democratic opponent called Grassley’s votes yesterday “infuriating.” U.S. Senate candidate Patty Judge of Albia said “preventing terrorists from purchasing guns” and expanding background checks “should not even be a debate” after the worst mass shooting in U.S. history.