I’m glad to have dialogue with Iowans on any issue, especially those that weigh most heavily on the minds of my constituents. I appreciate the letter writer on Feb. 19, “Grassley must step up on gun violence,” continues to share his views with me. That’s how representative government works.
School shootings in America strike a raw nerve in this country. My 14 county meetings this past week across Eastern Iowa confirmed it. People justifiably shared passionate views. The bloodshed of innocent students and teachers in one of the most sacred spaces of American life is morally abhorrent.
And it needs to be stopped.
The letter writer and I agree that society can take a number of steps to prevent mass shootings. Starting from the grassroots, we can all work together to keep our country safe. We can follow the call to “See something, Say something.” Keeping our eyes and ears open, from social media to school hallways, is an important preventative measure that can help save lives.
Unfortunately, there isn’t a single solution to end gun violence. It will take a thoughtful, multi-faceted approach. I support comprehensive measures, including strengthening and enforcing the criminal background checks system; looking at preventing bump stocks from turning legal firearms into automatic weapons; increasing mental health services and screenings; improving reporting systems to avert threats of school violence; upgrading school safety infrastructure and holding government accountable for missing red flags.
We agree that the top priority of the government is protecting public safety. That’s why it’s extremely troubling to learn that so many red flags apparently were missed or flat-out ignored regarding the troubled teenager now charged with killing 17 people in Parkland, Florida. The people who knew him saw something and said something. Incredibly, it seems law enforcement didn’t “do something” that may have prevented this tragedy. The investigation shows that at least one law enforcement officer waited outside during the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
Solving this issue will take leadership. In fact, as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, I used my leadership position to hold a congressional hearing last December on proposals to ban bump stocks and strengthen the federal gun ban list. Moving forward, I will work with lawmakers from both sides of the aisle to achieve bipartisan consensus on policies that will make our schools safe again.
The letter writer is correct that I took an oath of office to uphold the U.S. Constitution. That means I have pledged to uphold the individual rights and liberties for every American citizen. Just as I will continue to protect the “right to bear arms,” I will work to keep guns out of the wrong hands.