After receiving donations and praise from the NRA, Sen. Chuck Grassley is already leading the effort to stop regulation of bump stocks, which were used by the Las Vegas shooter to modify his weapons to make them deadlier.
The shooter who massacred 59 Americans in Las Vegas was in possession of modified rapid-fire guns in his hotel room, and now that an effort is underway to ban the tools used to make those weapons deadlier, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) is already opposing it.
Grassley’s position against this modest suggestion should not be a surprise. He has received more than $50,000 in campaign donations from the NRA to push its agenda — including $9,900 in just the past year — and has received an “A” grade for his voting record against gun legislation.
A bump stock, which was found on the Las Vegas shooter’s guns, allows rifles like the AR-15 to shoot bullets in rapid succession, mimicking the capabilities of an automatic weapon. Fully automatic weapons have been banned in the United States, but bump stocks are currently legal.
The gun used in the Pulse night club shooting in Florida that killed 49 shot at a rate of about 24 shots in 9 seconds. The Las Vegas gun made 90 shots in 10 seconds, while a fully automatic gun shots bullets at a rate of 98 bullets in 7 seconds.
Democratic senators offered a bill that would make the modification tools illegal. In a press conference introducing the legislation, California Sen. Dianne Feinstein noted, “The only reason to modify a gun like this is to kill as many people as possible in as short of a time as possible.”
But Grassley, who leads the Senate Judiciary Committee and would have jurisdiction over legislation on bump stocks, started jamming on the brakes almost immediately.
He told reporters in Iowa that it would be unlikely that legislation addressing the issue could pass the Senate, and threw up a series of excuses for why it couldn’t happen.
Grassley did not have the courage to give his personal opinion of such legislation. Instead, he dodged by saying “you’ve got to develop the legislation so you can get 60 votes.” He then asked, “Can you get 60 votes for it?”
Grassley further tried to evade responsibility by shifting blame to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, asserting that “you’ve still got to get a leader who’s going to bring it up” for a vote.
He also invoked an NRA-approved talking point that any attempt at legislation is pointless. “You need to make sure legislation really solves the problem,” he said. “Is there anything we could’ve done in the past that would’ve kept that from happening?”
Of course, there is no way to answer that question. But after every mass shooting over the last several years, Grassley and his fellow NRA-endorsed Republicans have refused to even attempt any legislation to prevent the next deadly tragedy, opting instead to do nothing at all.
The point of gun safety legislation is not to stop every instance of gun violence, but to reduce the number of instances of gun crime so fewer people die in the long run.
Grassley’s immediate opposition echoes his fellow NRA cash recipient, Sen. John Thune (R-SD), who said potential gun violence victims should simply “get small” when threatened by a mass shooter.
Thune and Grassley show why the NRA invests in Republican senators. For just a few thousand dollars they, and others like them, are ready to quash even the most sensible of legislation on the lobby’s behalf.
Their cynical calculus is that allowing guns to continue taking lives unimpeded is more than worth the moral and societal decay that comes with cashing the NRA’s checks.