Grassley suggests openness to gun control idea
Sen. Chuck Grassley, a conservative Republican from Iowa, suggested Friday he may be open to a limited form of gun control - restricting the size of gun magazines - if that legislation does not violate the Constitutional protection of gun rights.
"I think that's a whole different issue and it can maybe be dealt with without violating the Second Amendment, but I want to see the legislation," Grassley told Iowa Public Television in an interview Friday.
But he reaffirmed his opposition to reinstating the assault weapons ban that Congress passed in 1994.
Asked if he would support limiting the capacity of gun magazines, Grassley further qualified his remark.
"I would not say at this point because Senator [Dianne] Feinstein has said her bill is going to be much different than the law she got passed in 1994 and I think I'd better wait 'til I see the legislation," he said.
Feinstein, D-California, has been one of several voices in Congress supporting renewal or strengthening of the 1994 assault weapons ban, which expired in 2004 and has not been renewed. A number of pieces of gun control legislation have been introduced in the new Congress.
The assault weapons ban included a limit on the capacity of gun magazines, which can either be permanently attached to a firearm or removable. It banned certain semi-automatic pistols, some shotguns, and other firearms which had specific combinations of features, such as a telescoping ability or bayonet mount, as well as ammunition magazines capable of holding more than 10 rounds.
Grassley pointed out that the 1999 school shooting at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado occurred while the assault weapons ban was in effect. The 17- and 18-year-old students carried semi-automatic pistols and rifles.
Feinstein, said on CNN's "Piers Morgan Tonight" days after the December 14 shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut that her legislation would include a ban of "big clips, drums or strips of more than 10 bullets."
"There is no Second Amendment right to bear every type of weapon that you know of. These are a certain class of weapons," she said. "They are designed to kill large numbers of people in close combat. I don't believe the Second Amendment covers them. The Second Amendment was written a long time before this class of weapons was founded, merchandised, and spread all over our country."
Grassley did not specifically indicate in the interview how he understands ammunition and magazine clips as fitting into the Second Amendment, which reads: "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."
He said in the interview that he supports preventing firearms from being sold to individuals with certain mental health issues, as well as individuals with felony convictions - who are barred from purchasing guns.
"I am a supporter of the Second Amendment," he said. "I also think though that we do have to do things to make sure the database of the FBI has all the information so people can't buy guns who shouldn't have guns."
He also indicated he is opposed to requiring a mental health test before a gun purchase and found violent video games to be a "very difficult issue" because of First Amendment -- freedom of speech -- protections.
Vice President Joe Biden has been leading the Obama administration's task force on the issue and said he will submit recommendations to President Barack Obama by Tuesday.
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