Sen. Grassley

Activists plan to hold what they call a “respectful, peaceful law-abiding funeral vigil” for victims of gun violence outside Senator Chuck Grassley’s office in Des Moines at 1 PM today.

The group claims Grassley has gotten $220,000 from the National Rifle Association and they want him to refuse future contributions from the organization. Grassley says that figure isn’t right.

“It’s a matter of public record,” Grassley says. “Anybody can go to the FEC records and find out but since a PAC can’t contribute more than $10,000 in an election year, it seems like $200,000 is absolutely incorrect.”

The activists, who aren’t using a name, are organizing the event via Facebook. They call for action on anti-gun legislation, enacting universal background checks and banning assault weapons and bump stocks. Grassley says he’s on board with at least one of those issues.

“I’m interested in making sure bump stocks can’t be sold,” Grassley says. Those devices enable a semi-automatic weapon to fire faster and came to light following the shootings in Las Vegas last fall that left 58 people dead.

Grassley says federal agencies, including the FBI, need to do a better job of creating and utilizing databases that bar certain people from being able to buy firearms. He says state and federal agencies need to better communicate in putting people on the list who are felons, domestic abusers and those with both mental illness and a history of violence.

“It’s quite obvious that we wouldn’t have 23 people murdered in the Baptist church in Texas if the U.S. Department of the Air Force had reported that they’d kicked him out because of domestic abuse and felony,” Grassley says. “But he got a gun because his name wasn’t in there.” That’s a reference to the shootings last November in Sutherland Springs, Texas.

Grassley says legislation is now being written that’s tentatively to be named the Stop School Violence Act. It has multiple parts and Grassley highlights one of the facets.

“It would have grants from the federal government for schools to use to identify and address ‘risk people’,” Grassley says. “We’re told, but the president hasn’t specifically said so yet, but he’s willing to put $250-million into that program.”

Grassley says we need to make sure the government is doing its job, but adds, “We shouldn’t have to pass a law to make sure the FBI does what they didn’t do before.”