The top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee is crafting his own bill to reduce gun violence as the White House and gun-control advocates continue a nationwide push for stricter gun laws.
Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley’s bill would be an alternative to a measure that Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is preparing. Reid’s bill is expected to include additional taxpayer aid for school safety, tougher penalties for gun trafficking, and expanded background checks for gun purchases.
“Sen. Grassley, along with other concerned members, is putting together an alternative bill that addresses gun violence in a manner that doesn’t violate the constitutional rights of law-abiding citizens in contrast to what appears to be in the bill proposed by the majority leader,” Beth Levine, Grassley’s spokeswoman, told Newsmax in an email.
“It’s not finished yet, so we aren’t able to share it at this time. It will be ready when the majority leader’s bill is ready,” Levine said.
Grassley has supported cracking down on illegal gun trafficking and bolstering security at schools. However, he has said that he would not support expanding background checks on gun-buyers or renewing a ban on the sale of “assault” weapons.
His alternative would contribute to mounting frustrations in the White House and among Senate Democrats seeking to pass stricter gun-control laws, three months after a massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., left 20 children and six educators dead.
President Barack Obama made an emotional plea at the White House on Thursday with mothers and victims of gun violence.
“Shame on us if we’ve forgotten” about Sandy Hook, he said. “I haven’t forgotten those kids.”
Reid plans to offer his bill as early as April 8, when lawmakers return to Washington after a two-week spring recess.
But GOP Sens. Rand Paul of Kentucky, Ted Cruz of Texas and Mike Lee of Utah have said they plan to filibuster a procedural vote on any gun legislation, which will require 60 votes to overcome.
“The proposals the president is calling for Congress to pass would primarily serve to reduce the constitutionally protected rights of law-abiding citizens while having little or no effect on violent crime,” Lee said in a statement following the president’s address.
“It is deeply unfortunate that he continues to use the tragedy at Newtown as a backdrop for pushing legislation that would have done nothing to prevent that horrible crime,” said Lee, who serves on the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Advocates for stricter gun laws were due to hold more than 140 public events in 29 states on Thursday. The events were designed to pressure senators into voting for universal background checks.
Gun-control groups hoped that staging a “National Day to Demand Action” would help them regain momentum more than three months after the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary.
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