U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said Wednesday a bill to ban so-called assault weapons won’t get through the Senate Judiciary Committee, where he’s the top Republican.
He didn’t commit, however, on the question of expanded background checks.
On a conference call Wednesday, Grassley, the top Republican on the committee, said the ban is a non-starter. He was more encouraging about legislation that would seek to stem gun trafficking and boost security at schools, saying they have a “good chance” of getting past the panel. Four bills are being discussed and could come up Thursday.
The Obama administration and congressional Democrats have been pushing for stricter gun control in the aftermath of the massacre at a Newtown, Conn., elementary school, where a gunman killed 20 children and six adults.
On Tuesday, a group advocating stricter gun laws rallied in Davenport, urging Grassley to support a ban on assault-style weapons, as well as expanded background checks.
Analysts have said a ban on such weapons would be tough to accomplish in a divided Congress. But proposals to expand background checks, stem gun trafficking and increase school security also are on the table. Expanded background checks enjoy wide public support, according to polls.
When asked about the proposals on his weekly conference call, Grassley dismissed only the bill to ban assault-style weapons.
“The only one I can tell you with certainty probably won’t become law is the ban on certain guns,” he said.
As for background checks, he didn’t commit.
Currently, federal law requires checks only when a weapon is purchased from a licensed firearms dealer. But a significant number of guns are purchased in other transactions and aren’t subject to checks. U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., is spearheading Democratic efforts in the Senate to expand background checks, and he has argued records need to be kept to verify they’ve been done.
Some Republicans worry this could be a step toward registering guns, but Grassley said his concern is it would be a burden to require record-keeping on transfers between fathers and sons.
The White House has said it would exempt transfers between certain family members, and Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., a key negotiator, said he expected such an exemption. But Grassley said that many don’t. He declined to say whether keeping such records would be an obstacle for transfers that didn’t involve family members.
“I want to see what Schumer’s bill says,” he said.