Grassley: Gun control ineffective until mental issues are addressed

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) says he doesn’t think gun control measures would be worthwhile until mental health issues are addressed.

Jennifer Jacobs, a Des Moines Register politics reporter, tweeted his comment from a phone call Grassley held with members of the Iowa press on Wednesday.

“Until we start addressing mental health issues,” the senator said, “I don’t think more gun laws are going to do any good.”

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The senator spoke to reporters from Washington. He went home to Iowa over the weekend.

His comment comes amid the latest call by Democrats to renew the gun control debate after 12 people were killed in Monday’s shooting at Washington’s Navy Yard.

On Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said he doesn’t have the votes to pursue gun control legislation again. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) asked, “When will enough be enough?”

The last time the upper chamber considered such a measure was in April, when less than 60 senators voted "yes" on an amendment spearheaded by Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Pat Toomey (R-Pa.). It would have expanded criminal and mental health background checks on potential gun buyers.

Grassley, the top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, voted against the measure. Only four Republicans supported it.

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As an alternative, Grassley, along with Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), wrote another gun control amendment, supported by the National Rifle Association, that would increase the resources available to prosecutors for violators of gun laws and create a task force to prosecute people who fail criminal background checks.

Their bill also would have made it easier to purchase and transport firearms across state lines. But until this week, the issue has faded from Capitol Hill.

Since 2009, more than 50 mass shootings have occurred, which amounted to more than one per month, according to a study by Mayors Against Illegal Guns. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg founded the group.

“The problem is greater than guns,” Grassley said as the Judiciary Committee prepared to discuss gun control earlier this year in the wake of the Newtown shooting.

A clearer picture of the shooter from Monday’s tragedy is slowly emerging. According to multiple reports, law enforcement officials say the now-deceased gunman, Aaron Alexis, suffered from a host of mental health issues.

Officials are still trying to figure his motive for going on a killing spree.