Sen. Chuck Grassley bucked national opinion to make a point.
We hope he can live with it.
Poll after poll consistently showed 80 percent or more of Americans favored background checks for all gun buyers, not just some. In national polls, that support prevailed among Republicans and Democrats and gun owners as well.
The background checks required in the Senate bill narrowly defeated Wednesday would not prevent all future shooting sprees. But they definitely would slow down the unhinged individuals attempting to skirt the law to build an arsenal for a public assault. The bill would not introduce new restrictions. Rather, it would apply regulations common for most gun sales to the auctions, private party and Internet sales that have emerged as dodges to the current regulations.
The bill creates no national registry. It takes guns away from no one and prevents few from obtaining guns.
A majority of U.S. voters have supported tougher background checks. Those numbers went off the charts after Newtown, Conn., shootings, when exasperated Americans looked to Congress to do something.
The compromise bill before the Senate didn’t touch the massive ammo clips that fuel the body counts for these terror shooters. It didn’t put a single new limitation on automatic or semi-automatic weapons.
It simply required all – not just some – gun buyers to face a background check.
So who is Grassley representing?
His vote certainly represents the Republican minority. Just four Republicans, including Illinois’ Mark Kirk and former GOP presidential contender John McCain, chose to vote with the American people.
Grassley definitely represents the views of the National Rifle Association, which responded to Newtown with a plan to put high-powered weapons in every school in an attempt to outgun heavily armed shooters.
On Thursday, Grassley sought support for his NRA-sanctioned bill to beef up after-the-fact enforcement by spending more on investigations and hiring more law officers.
Perhaps in his 32nd year in office, Grassley feels insulated from voter sentiment and empowered to vote his conscience, not his district. That would be easier to believe if not for documentation showing Grassley enjoyed at least $17,850 in donations from the NRA PAC since 1998 and received $60,676 in assistance through NRA independent expenditures in his most recent, 2010 re-election campaign. Those figures tallied by Publiccampaign.org puts Grassley third on the list of Senate Judiciary Committee members who together have received $714,669 in NRA and affiliated PAC contributions. The only Senate Judiciary Committee member to vote for Wednesday’s compromise was the sole Democrat, Patrick Leahy, whose NRA-affiliated contributions totaled $7,000.
We’ve known and respected Grassley enough to suspect the contributions didn’t sway him. Instead, he seems stuck in a mindset that views these votes as partisan strategy intended to weaken the Senate majority. The object seems to be denying anything that could be interpreted as a Democrat victory.
It’s old-school politics that, thankfully, Sens. Kirk and McCain aren’t buying.
Grassley let Iowans down by blocking a bill that does nothing more than close the loophole allowing some gun buyers to avoid any background checks before amassing an arsenal.
We can’t fathom how he would explain that on a campaign trail. Perhaps he doesn’t think he’ll have to.