Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, this week blocked Senate passage of the largely partisan H.R. 8 legislation, which would criminalize private transfers of firearms without government involvement.
Grassley objected to the unanimous consent request, raised by Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), to bring up and pass the bill without a vote in the Senate. Grassley, who offered an alternative measure providing for firearm and public safety, provided the following prepared remarks during his objection.
Let me start off by saying the senseless tragedy we saw in Michigan should not have happened. The shooter killed four and injured others in a shocking act of violence. I cannot imagine what the families of the victims are going through. Difficult topics require across the aisle conversations, and I would invite my colleagues across the aisle to have a bipartisan conversation on this topic.
Violent crime and violence at schools are serious problems. I have supported legislative efforts to improve the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). For example, I introduced the EAGLES Act, a bipartisan bill that would help reauthorize the U.S. Secret Service’s National Threat Assessment Center, where they study targeted violence and proactively identify and manage threats before they result in tragedies.
However, I have serious concerns with the bill raised by Senator Murphy. This bill is hostile toward lawful gun owners and lawful firearms transactions. This will not solve the problem it seeks to address. So-called “universal” background checks will not prevent crime, but will turn otherwise law-abiding citizens into criminals.
I’ve introduced legislation, along with Senators Cruz and Tillis, the Protecting Communities and Preserving the Second Amendment Act. Our bill will be much more effective than the underlying bill, and has been supported by a majority of the Senate in the past. But the Democrat leadership has blocked it, which I assume they will do again today. This legislation would reauthorize and improve NICS, increase resources for prosecutions of gun crime, address mental illness in the criminal justice system and strengthen criminal law by including straw purchasing and illegal firearm trafficking statutes. It does that without burdening the Second Amendment rights of Americans. In addition, this bill would require a commission to study and report to Congress the underlying causes and triggers of mass shootings. The commission and study proposed could not come at a more important time.
I urge my colleagues to support this meaningful legislation.
Sens. Grassley and Ted Cruz (R-Texas) first introduced their Protecting Communities and Preserving the Second Amendment Act as an amendment in 2013. The senators have once again reintroduced the legislation this year alongside Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.).
The partisan H.R.8 would significantly burden law-abiding gun owners without addressing the root causes of gun violence. The legislation would potentially criminalize perfectly sensible transfers, including certain transfers between family members.