The Washington Post

Grassley: ‘The problem is greater than guns’

Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa), the ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, said he welcomes his committee’s discussion of what to do after the mass shooting in Newtown, Conn. But he made clear: "The problem is greater than guns alone."

Seeking to steer the debate beyond recent proposals on gun control, Grassley noted that society as a whole is more corrosive, that the government should do more to bolster mental health programs and that video game manufacturers may also hold some blame.

"I share Vice President Biden’s disbelief of manufacturer denials that these games have no effect on real-world violence," Grassley said.

He was referring to recent White House meetings the vice president had with entertainment executives, who pushed back against suggestions that violent video games played a role in inspiring recent shootings.

"Above all, we should not rush to pass legislation that will not reduce mass killings," Grassley added. "Banning guns based on their appearance does not make sense. The 1994 assault weapons ban did not stop Columbine. The Justice Department found the ban ineffective. Scholars have indicated that refining or expanding such legislation will not cut gun violence."

Grassley was referring to Clinton-era Department of Justice studies that found that the 1994 assault weapon ban had not helped drive down the rate of violent crime – a point disputed by congressional Democrats.

Grassley also expressed skepticism of proposals to limit the size of ammunition clips, noting that any such proposals "can be circumvented by carrying multiple guns, as many killers have done."

"We hear that no one needs to carry larger magazines than those that hunters use to shoot deer,” Grassley added. "But an attacking criminal, unlike a deer, shoots back."

Despite his concerns with those proposals, Grassley said he believes there is room for agreement on passing laws that would make gun trafficking a federal crime.

Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.) has proposed such legislation and Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) unveiled a similar bill Wednesday – the first bipartisan proposal addressing gun violence introduced since the Newtown shootings.

Ed O’Keefe is covering the 2016 presidential campaign, with a focus on Jeb Bush and other Republican candidates. He's covered presidential and congressional politics since 2008. Off the trail, he's covered Capitol Hill, federal agencies and the federal workforce, and spent a brief time covering the war in Iraq.

The Freddie Gray case

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!

Campaign 2016 Email Updates

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!
Show Comments
The New Hampshire primary is Tuesday. Get caught up on the race.
The Post's Dan Balz says ...
This was supposed to be the strongest Republican presidential field in memory, but cracks are showing. At Saturday night's debate, Marco Rubio withered in the face of unyielding attacks from Chris Christie, drawing attention to the biggest question about his candidacy: Is he ready to be president? How much the debate will affect Rubio's standing Tuesday is anybody's guess. But even if he does well, the question about his readiness to serve as president and to go up against Clinton, if she is the Democratic nominee, will linger.
Play Video
New Hampshire polling averages
Donald Trump holds a commanding lead in the next state to vote, but Marco Rubio has recently seen a jump in his support, according to polls.
New Hampshire polling averages
A victory in New Hampshire revitalized Hillary Clinton's demoralized campaign in 2008. But this time, she's trailing Bernie Sanders, from neighboring Vermont. She left the state Sunday to go to Flint, Mich., where a cost-saving decision led to poisonous levels of lead in the water of the poor, heavily black, rust-belt city. 
55% 40%
Play Video
Upcoming debates
Feb. 11: Democratic debate

on PBS, in Wisconsin

Feb 13: GOP debate

on CBS News, in South Carolina

Feb. 25: GOP debate

on CNN, in Houston, Texas

Campaign 2016
State of the race

To keep reading, please enter your email address.

You’ll also receive from The Washington Post:
  • A free 6-week digital subscription
  • Our daily newsletter in your inbox

Please enter a valid email address

I have read and agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

Please indicate agreement.

Thank you.

Check your inbox. We’ve sent an email explaining how to set up an account and activate your free digital subscription.