Journal Express, Knoxville, IA

May 2, 2013

Grassley discusses guns, immigration

Steve Woodhouse
Journal-Express

Knoxville — During an interview with the Journal-Express this morning, Iowa Senator Charles Grassley explained why he voted against recent gun control legislation. 

Grassley's concern with the bill is that it would have required gun owners to register their weapons. He compared this to what the Nazis did in Germany, before taking over, and said that the government should not know who has guns. This undermines the Second Amendment, he added. 

"We shouldn't have registration," Grassley said. 

Grassley did work to find a resolution to recent gun control concerns. He, with Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, introduced an amendment that they believe would have improved the system, while preserving the Constitutional rights of Americans. According to Grassley, and an accompanying press release, the amendment would have strengthened the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) and done the following things: 

·         Improve and reauthorize grants for NICS database;

·         Require federal courts to submit relevant information to NICS;

·         Ensure that relevant mental health records are submitted by states to NICS;

·         Condition federal grant money for states on their submission of mental health records to NICS;

·         Increase federal prosecution of gun violence by establishing the Nationwide Project Exile Program and establishing a high level federal taskforce;

·         Study of the causes of mass shootings;

·         Responsibly addresses gun violence by criminalizing straw purchasing of firearms and gun trafficking;

·         Second Amendment Protections for Veterans. (According to Grassley, several Iraq and Afghanistan veterans have been wrongfully placed on a list which prevents them from obtaining firearms.) 

·         Require the Department of Justice to explain to Congress why it has or has not been prosecuting gun cases;

·         Place Limitations on Fast & Furious type operations by DOJ. (Fast and Furious is the DOJ operation in which the government allowed American weapons to cross the border into Mexico. One of these weapons was used to murder a US Border Patrol agent. Grassley, with other Senators, have pushed Attorney General Eric Holder to provide more information about this program, but has received little cooperation. President Obama has indicated that certain information can be withheld through executive privilege. The matter of executive privilege is now in the hands of the courts. Grassley said there is no time frame for a decision, but he continues to pursue the truth about this operation.)

·         Authorize FFL’s to utilize the NICS database to for voluntary background checks of employees;

·         Authorize FFL’s to access the FBI’s National Crime Information Center stolen gun database to ensure that a firearm is not stolen prior to acquisition;

·         Reauthorize the Mentally Ill Offender Treatment and Crime Reduction Act (MIOTCRA) with amendments;

·         Address school safety by Reauthorizes the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) Secure our Schools Program through 2023.

"(My Amendment) doesn't do anything to compromise the Second Amendment," Grassley said. 

Grassley added that the Supreme Court has ruled that Congress should not interfere with "common uses" of firearms. Common uses include protection, as well as hunting. 

More votes will be required before the legislation can pass in the Senate. Whether or not the issue will be brought back to the floor is in the hands of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, and Grassley does not know if that will happen. 

Immigration

Grassley also addressed the immigration discussion currently underway. The United States estimates that there are 11 million illegal immigrants in the country today. Grassley does not know if that number is exact, but he added that it is, "in the ballpark." 

One immigration proposal would allow those who are currently here illegally to bring family members to the United States. If this is limited to immediate family, such as spouses or parents, the number of those who will be on a path to citizenship should not go far beyond 11 million. If this is open to all family, that number could grow to, and above, 30 million. 

Grassley said it would take 13 years for these people to earn citizenship. They would have to show a history of being employed as well. Those are the highlights of the first 100 pages of the bill, according to Grassley. 

"If the border was secure, you wouldn't need it," Grassley said. He wants to see a guarantee of border security included in the bill. The role he will try to play in the discussion will be regarding the sections on agricultural workers. 

"We thought we secured the border when we made it illegal to hire illegal aliens," Grassley said. He is one of a handful of Senators still in office when the Immigration Act of 1986 was passed. Grassley supported this bill at the time, but he and others were not aware of the illegal document industry that would grow out of this law. They thought they were closing the border then as well.

"It didn't work," Grassley said. 

As for the immediate future, Grassley intends to spend a lot of time next week working on the "Farm Bill." This bill includes many other items, beyond agriculture. Illegal immigration and continued pursuit of the Fast and Furious operation will also be his focus.