Grassley Executive Committee Statement on the Assault Weapons Ban
Prepared Statement of Ranking Member Chuck Grassley
Senate Judiciary Committee
Executive Business Meeting
Assault Weapons Ban, S. 150
Mr. Chairman, I appreciate Senator Feinstein’s sincerity in pursuing the assault weapons ban. This has been an important issue for her for 20 years.
I feel for the victims of Newtown. I know that it was difficult for Mr. Heslin to testify.
But there are other parents of children who were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School who mourn the loss of their loved ones no less, yet feel very differently about the ways Congress should respond.
On Tuesday, I spoke with Mr. Mark Mattioli. His son, James, was one of the victims at Newtown. Even in his grief, he sent me a letter that he authorized me to seek consent to place in the record and to quote during our debate.
Mr. Mattioli describes how no one should have to endure what he has endured. And no one should. He wrote, “I can understand where knee-jerk reactions come from, to ensure ‘never again’. “I caution that we employ common-sense, and do not hand over any liberty which is protected by the United States constitution.”
We continue to wait for the Justice Department’s constitutional analysis of the bill. Despite statements by Department of Justice witnesses at two hearings on this matter, I have yet to see an opinion from the Department arguing that this bill is constitutional.
I appreciate the input of other scholars who have offered their opinions as witnesses, but the Justice Department has, or should have, a different role in providing us with a constitutional analysis.
Mr. Mattioli says that the debate should not be about controlling guns, but controlling people who cannot control themselves, like people with mental illness and felons. He favors making sure people can find their moral compass and parents who will raise their children to know right from wrong and not expose them to heavy violence.
I agree with Mr. Mattioli on this point.
Then he writes, “For those who tell me that my son and twenty-five others were killed that day with an assault weapon, I challenge them to consider” other more important factors. He says that assault weapons “are not the threat to our safety,” and he is very focused on improving mental health services.
Mr. Mattioli also opposes the limit on magazine capacities.
He asks, “[W]ith 250-million guns in the United States, how are you going to make me safer by reducing new magazines to 1, 5, or 10 rounds? You will not increase my safety, only obstruct me from protecting myself from a criminal who may possess one of the existing guns out there.”
Mr. Mattioli has great courage to have survived his terrible ordeal and to make the statements he has made. I think he speaks with great understanding of how to address mass shootings. His words, difficult to write, I’m sure, are an important viewpoint we should consider.
This is especially true given the constitutional concerns about this legislation that arise in light of the Supreme Court’s decision in Heller. I continue to believe this legislation is fatally flawed under the Supreme Court’s Second Amendment cases.
Given those flaws, I must oppose this legislation.