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Page Hometown » Iowa
Posted: 3/12/2018 2:28:41 PM EDT
Thank you for taking the time to contact me. As your senator, it is important that I hear from you.

I want you to know that I value your opinion on firearms, and I welcome this discussion. I was heartbroken to hear about the shooting which took place at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida on Valentine’s Day. This senseless tragedy took the lives of 17 innocent people. I am outraged that more was not done to prevent it, and I am taking action to work to prevent future shootings.

Last fall in Sutherland Springs, Texas, we saw the horrible result of the government’s failure to correctly submit names to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). And now in Parkland, Florida, we are witnessing what happens when federal and state agencies and law enforcement officials fail to follow multiple tips about a clearly disturbed and dangerous individual.

Although there were clear warning signs that should have prevented the shooter from legally purchasing a firearm, the system failed us. According to news reports, the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) opened an investigation into the shooter in 2016 and visited his family over allegations of medical neglect. Alarmingly, DCF uncovered information that the shooter posted pictures showing self-harm in Snapchat posts, and that he “had plans to go out and buy a gun” at that time. Despite all the warning signs, after six weeks the DCF closed their investigation without taking further action.

Then, in September 2017, an individual alerted the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to comments that the shooter made on YouTube. In a post he signed with his own name, the shooter said, “I’m going to be a professional school shooter.” The FBI stated that it conducted an initial database review, but was unable to “further identify the person who actually made the comment.”

Additionally, on January 5, 2018, the FBI stated it received information on its Public Access Line from “a person close to” the shooter about his “gun ownership, desire to kill people, erratic behavior, and disturbing social media posts, as well as the potential of him conducting a school shooting.” Although the established protocol was for the FBI to forward this information to the FBI Miami Field Office, where the necessary and appropriate steps would have been taken, this did not happen and there was no further investigation.

This is deeply troubling, which is why I sent a letter demanding that the FBI and Google, which owns YouTube, explain why these ominous and clear threats made by the shooter did not result in preventative action by law enforcement. I also arranged for the FBI, Google, and Facebook to brief the Senate Judiciary Committee on the Parkland shooting to determine what they could have done to prevent it. The briefings were an important first step to ensure that similar situations can be prevented in the future.

To keep our country safe, the government asks its citizens to “see something, say something.” But that can only work when the government follows through when vigilant Americans speak up. The government must do a better job to follow the laws and regulations that are already on the books and are designed to prevent tragedies like the one in Parkland, Florida.

In response to tragedies like this, there are often calls to ban all guns, to ban the specific type of weapon that was used in the most recent shooting, or to ban so-called “assault weapons.” Such bans would be unconstitutional or ineffective. In 2008, the Supreme Court recognized in District of Columbia v. Heller that the Second Amendment of the Constitution protects an individual’s right to keep and bear arms for lawful purposes such as self-defense and recreation, so an outright ban on guns is clearly unconstitutional. In 2004, a Department of Justice study concluded that—after a ten-year assault weapons ban—there was no statistically significant evidence that banning “assault weapons” reduced gun murders. And the guns used in recent mass shootings have features that are common to many different models of guns, so banning a specific type of gun would not prevent future shootings.

I believe the best way to prevent school shootings is to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous individuals who should not possess them. And I am taking action to prevent future mass shootings. In December, the Senate Judiciary Committee, which I chair, held a hearing on improving the NICS background check system for gun purchasers and restricting bump stocks—the devices that enabled the shooter in the October 1, 2017 Las Vegas shooting to fire bullets at the speed of an automatic weapon.

In 2013, Senator Cruz and I offered a substitute amendment to pending gun legislation on the Senate floor, entitled, the “Protecting Communities and Preserving the Second Amendment Act.” One of the most significant aspects of my amendment was that it would have provided $300 million for the Secure our Schools (SOS) grant program – a program that was eliminated because neither the House of Representatives nor the Senate Commerce, Justice, and Science Committees included funding for it in their fiscal year 2012 budget bills. The SOS grant offered funding to local governments in order to assist with the development of school safety resources, such as the use and placement of metal detectors, locks, lighting, security training of personnel and students, in addition to supporting coordination measures between local law enforcement and schools. However, despite bipartisan support, members from across the aisle blocked the adoption of my amendment, which I believe could have provided local communities and schools the necessary tools to mitigate and possibly prevent future school shooting. It would also have further appropriated funds for this important program until 2023, providing communities across the country an opportunity to apply for the SOS grant for years to come. Because I feel this legislation is vital for combatting mass shootings, Senator Cruz and I reintroduced the “Protecting Communities and Preserving the Second Amendment Act” (S. 2502) as a stand-alone bill on March 6, 2018. In addition to providing grant funding, this bill would take an important step forward by commissioning a study on the causes of mass shootings from the National Institute of Justice and National Academy of Sciences. This bill would also create a new task force which would allocate additional funds in order to prosecute felons and fugitives who attempt to buy guns. It also increases federal funding for 15 jurisdictions with the highest violent-crime rates in order to assist prosecutors and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives Agents in their investigative and prosecutorial efforts of firearm offenses. Further, S. 2502 would create new criminal offenses for the illegal trafficking of firearms and straw purchases.

In addition, I have expressed support regarding President Trump’s call for the Department of Justice to issue new regulations making bump stocks and similar devices illegal. And I am actively working with Senators Feinstein and Cornyn to advance legislation they introduced following the tragedy in Texas. Their bill, the “Fix NICS Act of 2017” (S. 2135), would penalize federal agencies who fail to comply with current law which requires them to properly report dangerous individuals and violent criminals to the National Instant Background Check System (NICS), while also providing incentives to states to improve their overall criminal history reporting. This bill will help keep guns out of the hands of criminals and other individuals that are not allowed to possess them.

I have also been working extensively with Senator Hatch and the White House on legislation designed to improve school safety and prevent future mass shootings. The culmination of our work resulted in the introduction of the “Students, Teachers, and Officers Preventing (STOP) School Violence Act” (S. 2495), on March 5, 2018. This bill will provide funding to make school facilities safer by providing training so that school administrators and law enforcement officials can work to identify and treat troubled students to prevent school violence before it starts. It will also provide grants to schools looking to improve their infrastructure which will help deter and hopefully prevent potential school shooters from acting.

Furthermore, in my continued leadership of trying to prevent these tragedies from occurring, I, along with 13 other Senators, introduced the “School Safety and Mental Health Services Act” (S. 2513) on March 7, 2018. This bill, among other things, would allow 100,000 public schools to improve safety by using federal dollars for school counselors, alarm systems, security cameras, and crisis intervention training. Students should not only feel safe at school, but they should be safe at school. Making federal resources available so schools can upgrade their security and mental health programs and infrastructure will make all of our students safer.

To help prevent future tragedies from occurring, this Committee will be holding an oversight hearing on the Parkland, Florida shooting and general school safety on March 14, 2018, which I look forward to chairing.

I would also like to address the reports that I single handedly overturned a regulation issued by the Social Security Administration (SSA) last February that would make it easier for “mentally ill” individuals to purchase firearms. This could not be further from the truth. As you may be aware, the FBI’s NICS maintains a list of persons who are deemed "mentally defective" and placement on that list precludes ownership and possession of firearms. In April 2015, I wrote a letter to then-Attorney General Eric Holder, outlining my concerns that the Department of Veterans' Affairs (VA) submits names to the NICS list simply for receiving financial assistance to manage their VA benefits, not whether they are a danger to self or others. In March 2016, I reached out to the VA to address similar concerns.

The SSA proposed a draft rule to use the same flawed VA standard to report Social Security beneficiaries to the FBI for subsequent placement on the NICS list. On May 26, 2016, I wrote a letter to Carolyn W. Colvin, Acting Commissioner of the Social Security Administration, reiterating the concerns I raised with her in a July 24, 2015 letter. In my initial letter, I stated that 4.2 million Americans have been appointed representative payees by the SSA, which means that if the SSA attempts to regulate those individuals, then the new regulatory scheme could potentially result in one of the largest gun bans in United States history. It is essential to ensure that the process by which the SSA, and all federal agencies, report names to the FBI for placement on the NICS list recognizes and protects the fundamental nature of the Second Amendment.

After careful study, it became clear that the SSA regulation was an abridgement of the Second Amendment right of SSA beneficiaries, failed to pass constitutional muster, and was patently unfair in a number of ways.

First, the SSA regulation did not require a formal hearing before reporting people to NICS thereby violating due process rights. Federal law makes clear that an “adjudication” is required before firearms disabilities are incurred. The agency regulation failed in that regard because there can be no “adjudication” without a hearing.

Second, it did not require the SSA to find a person mentally ill before reporting to the NICS. The agency regulation merely used a vague disorders list that included eating disorders and disorders that impact sleep to assign a person a representative payee. Then, once that assignment is made, the SSA would report people to the gun ban list resulting in the loss of firearms.

And third, it did not require the SSA to find a person dangerous to self or others before reporting to the NICS. However, in order for an individual to remove their name from the list, he or she must prove that they are not dangerous. So, on the one hand the regulation did not require the government to prove someone dangerous to report them to the gun ban list, but on the other hand existing law requires anyone on the gun ban list to prove they are not dangerous to get their names off and their guns back. This double standard is patently unfair. The government should be held to the same standard as the people.

Thus, the SSA regulation was a textbook example of unfairly stigmatizing people with disabilities and failed to solve the problem it aimed to accomplish, which is why it was opposed by both sides of the aisle. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) was one of the lead organizations who spoke out against this regulation, stating:

We oppose this [SSA] rule because it advances and reinforces the harmful stereotypes that people with mental disabilities, a vast and diverse group of citizens, are violent and should not own a gun. There is no data to support a connection between the need for a representative payee to manage one’s Social Security disability benefits and a propensity toward gun violence. The rule further demonstrates the damaging phenomenon of ‘spread,’ or the perception that a disabled individual with one area of impairment automatically has additional, negative and unrelated attributes.

Accordingly, on January 30, 2017, I introduced a resolution (S.J. Res. 14), to provide for congressional disapproval of this misguided administrative rule. My resolution received 32 bipartisan cosponsors and was supported by over 20 disability rights groups. Other notable groups who supported the repeal of the agency’s regulation included the Autistic Self Advocacy Network, Disability Law, and the National Coalition for Mental Health Recovery. On February 15, 2017, the Senate passed the House companion to my resolution in bipartisan fashion, 57-43, and on February 28, 2017, President Trump signed it into law.

Importantly, even with the repeal of the SSA’s regulation, gun safety prohibitions are still in place. For example, federal law still prohibits those who are actually found to be dangerous or mentally ill from purchasing firearms. The same can be said for felons, those with misdemeanor domestic violence convictions, and people who have been involuntarily committed to a mental institution. However, as we have seen, federal agencies need to do a better job, and be held accountable for not enforcing the laws that could prevent dangerous individuals from purchasing firearms. I have consistently fought to strengthen our nation’s mental health services and to limit access to firearms for those who seek to do us harm. I remain committed to these efforts, which is why I have proposed legislation several times to improve the procedures by which the government can report names to the gun ban list if a person is dangerous.

I also understand that some have expressed support to end “gun-free school zones.” Representative Massie has introduced a bill, H.R. 34, the “Safe Students Act”, which would repeal the Gun-Free School Zone Act of 1990. This would allow students or faculty to bring a firearm into a “school zone”, with the intended effect of mitigating future school shootings. This bill has been referred to the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations, where lawmakers will choose whether or not they will debate this legislation. Should the Senate consider H.R. 34, I will closely examine the bill to determine its possible effects on our schools and children.

I want you to know that I am a firm supporter of our Second Amendment right to bear arms, and have continually voted to uphold our rights under the Second Amendment. You can be sure that any bill that seeks to restrict or restrain our Second Amendment rights will be given the strictest scrutiny and I will fight to ensure that no new extreme limitations are placed upon our Constitutional right to bear arms.

I look forward to working with Congress and the White House to prevent future shootings and to make our schools and our country safer. As I do so, I will keep your thoughts in mind.

Again, thank you for taking the time to contact me, and I encourage you to keep in touch.

Sincerely,

Chuck Grassley
Link Posted: 3/12/2018 7:50:48 PM EDT
Tl;dr. Cliff notes ?
Link Posted: 3/12/2018 8:18:24 PM EDT
Discussion ForumsJump to Quoted PostQuote History
Originally Posted By Zabojca:
Tl;dr. Cliff notes ?
View Quote
Grasley says he fully supports the 2nd but then says he is for restricting bumpstocks and the fix NICS bill that has been introduced.
Link Posted: 3/12/2018 11:48:51 PM EDT
Discussion ForumsJump to Quoted PostQuote History
Originally Posted By gunner76:

Grasley says he fully supports the 2nd but then says he is for restricting bumpstocks and the fix NICS bill that has been introduced.
View Quote
So he's a full of shit politician? I'm shocked
Link Posted: 3/13/2018 12:26:47 PM EDT
I'm totally against banning any weapon or accessory but the NICS system does need fixed. The problem is not just at the federal level though. It exists with laws states have passed keeping dangerous people from being reported. Yes, I know there is a lot of concern about how we go about labeling a person dangerous and I share that concern but we all know there are people out there in the system who should not have access to firearms. A line has to be drawn somewhere where real mental illness is concerned.
Link Posted: 3/13/2018 4:51:37 PM EDT
NICs does not need to be fixed, it needs to be scrapped altogether.
There is a better system out there that does not violate the civil rights of law abiding citizens, is less costly, and more accurate. It called BIDS.

Basically, BIDS distributes the list of hardcore prohibited possessors to federally licensed firearm dealers. Dealers check their customers against the computerized list to lockout illegal sales.
This maintains the privacy of innocent citizens and eliminates the potential for illegal government registries. It's simple. It's cheap. It works

http://www.gunlaws.com/BIDSvNICS.htm
Link Posted: 3/13/2018 10:30:53 PM EDT
As long as politicians are involved, nothing will be done in the law abiding citizens best interest. That is just the facts. It is a civil right to be mentally ill and it appears their rights trump ours. This won't change until the supreme court changes some past decisions. Look up O'Connor vs Donaldson if you dont know what I mean.

I could care less about bump stocks. I dont own one and i wont own one but it's a slippery slope. We all know that. Until America treasures traditional values again, we are at risk. Now is not the time to go soft on elected representatives. Hold them accountable and demand that our court's are only filled with constitutional judges. Charles Grassley has been absolutely spot on when it comes to judges. You don't have to like the guy to see what he is doing for iowa and America. Demand that all of Iowa's elected officials support and defend constitutional judges.
kwg
Link Posted: 3/14/2018 3:13:48 AM EDT
Discussion ForumsJump to Quoted PostQuote History
Originally Posted By IAShooters:
NICs does not need to be fixed, it needs to be scrapped altogether.
There is a better system out there that does not violate the civil rights of law abiding citizens, is less costly, and more accurate. It called BIDS.

Basically, BIDS distributes the list of hardcore prohibited possessors to federally licensed firearm dealers. Dealers check their customers against the computerized list to lockout illegal sales.
This maintains the privacy of innocent citizens and eliminates the potential for illegal government registries. It's simple. It's cheap. It works

http://www.gunlaws.com/BIDSvNICS.htm
View Quote
OK. I won't say it is a bad idea but:
I see nothing about who will maintain and update the database.

I see nothing about finding a way to require states/feds to report those who are a danger. Yes everyone has rights, but yet those who would do harm need to have restrictions placed on them or institutionalized. The question is how to do this, under strict scrutiny, while preserving as many rights as possible.

There also needs to be a way for civilians to run a voluntary check, not a mandatory check, on potential buyers on private sales. I have not sold to people who I was concerned about that may have been perfectly legitimate because I could not obtain a check on them. This is a problem with the current NICS and would seem the BIDS method. True not selling to an individual may be said to be a good method but it is just a biased opinion that can sell to a bad individual as easily as deny a perfectly acceptable person.
Link Posted: 3/15/2018 12:13:04 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 3/15/2018 12:14:51 PM EDT by IAShooters]
Discussion ForumsJump to Quoted PostQuote History
Originally Posted By river_rat:

OK. I won't say it is a bad idea but:
I see nothing about who will maintain and update the database.
FBI currently maintains the NICS database they can handle the BIDS database. Seeing how there will only be the prohibited in the list, then no "secret lists" of legal gun owners or mistaken denials for the law-abidding.

I see nothing about finding a way to require states/feds to report those who are a danger. Yes everyone has rights, but yet those who would do harm need to have restrictions placed on them or institutionalized. The question is how to do this, under strict scrutiny, while preserving as many rights as possible.
The requirement for states/feds is not written into NICs or BIDs. That is a separate law, which we need, where only the criminal and mentally adjudicated are included. Nothing to do with the failure of NICs, everything to do to force the states/feds to comply and penalties if they don't.

There also needs to be a way for civilians to run a voluntary check, not a mandatory check, on potential buyers on private sales. I have not sold to people who I was concerned about that may have been perfectly legitimate because I could not obtain a check on them. This is a problem with the current NICS and would seem the BIDS method. True not selling to an individual may be said to be a good method but it is just a biased opinion that can sell to a bad individual as easily as deny a perfectly acceptable person.
Voluntary checks is also not part of the current NICs or BIDs. My opinion, I do not want to see this mandated by the government at any level, PERIOD. With that said, possibly FBI sets up a website for voluntary checks for a small fee, like $5. The fee would keep the idiots off the website just hammering people's names into the system to see what they can come up with. Would be nice to have them maintain a list of stolen firearm serial numbers too.
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Link Posted: 3/16/2018 11:19:24 PM EDT
I sure got a bad feeling when Grassley joined Lindsey Graham asking Trump not to fire Jeff Sessions. Sessions has remarkably under preformed regarding prosecution of blatant democrat crimes. Certainly has the look of Deep State. I have pleaded with Grassley for 5 years for help getting my QRLEO retired police ID still no closer today than 5 years ago. I can not get the government to obey its own laws Title 18 US Code 926C.
Link Posted: 4/2/2018 8:44:12 PM EDT
I got the same letter from him.
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