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Assault Weapons Ban Has Rough Road Ahead, Grassley Says

Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo
Grassley, the ranking member of the Judiciary Committee, said he doesn’t support the assault weapons ban being discussed in the Senate.

Sen. Charles E. Grassley, R-Iowa, said vulnerable Senate Democratic incumbents could be the key to preventing an assault weapons ban from passing this year.

In an interview on C-SPAN’s “Newsmakers”set to air Sunday, Grassley acknowledged that support for such a ban remains strong in some quarters of the Democratic Party, but he said he believes the electoral politics make it a difficult prospect at best.

“I feel that an outright ban would have a difficult time passing the [Republican run] House of Representatives, so that would keep it from becoming law,” Grassley said. “But when you have five, six, maybe even seven Democratic senators from rural areas, that come from Second Amendment states ... I think that is a tough go in the Unites States Senate.”

Twenty-one Democratic Senators face reelection in 2014, including several from rural areas, such as Mark Begich of Alaska, Mark Pryor of Arkansas, Mark Udall of Colorado, Mary L. Landrieu of Louisiana, Max Baucus of Montana, Tim Johnson of South Dakota and Mark Warner of Virginia.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein has introduced legislation that would ban the future sale, transfer, manufacture and importation of 157 specific kinds of semi-automatic guns and impose the same restrictions on ammunition magazines that contain more than 10 rounds. Her bill would also ban rifles, handguns and shotguns that accept detachable magazines and have certain physical characteristics, including a pistol grip or folding stock. The California Democrat helped put in place the 10-year assault weapons ban which expired in 2004.

Sen. Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., who backs the ban, said it’s too early to tell what can pass, but he said Democrats intend to push for the ban and the president’s recommendations.

“We are going to try hard on every piece of the president’s package and the package that various Senators have,” Schumer said. “It’s too early to tell where the votes are for each one.”

Grassley, who is the ranking member of the Judiciary Committee and who opposes such a ban, said in the C-SPAN interview, “banning guns doesn’t prevent killing.”

He noted that the massacre in Columbine, Colo., happened while the previous assault weapons ban was in place. He also took issue with deciding what types of guns to ban.

It’s “difficult to justify that somehow you ban some guns and not others,” Grassley said. “When you look the whole picture it just makes it very difficult to say you ban these guns and that is somehow going to stop these killings.”

Grassley said he supports updating the National Instant Criminal Background Check System with mental health information. The NCIS is currently incomplete where mental health records are concerned.

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