Iowa Republican Senator Chuck Grassley is drafting a new bill as an alternative to the highly controversial gun control bill that’s slated for debate later this month.
Beth Lavine, Grassley’s spokesman, explained, “It’s not finished yet, so we aren’t able to share it at this time.” Still, she offered some insight into what the bill might contain: “Senator Grassley, along with other concerned members, is putting together an alternative bill that addresses gun violence in a manner that doesn’t violate the constitutional rights of law-abiding citizens in contrast to what appears to be in the bill proposed by the majority leader.”
This alternative gun control option would not call for universal background checks on all weapon sales, but it would still enforce penalties for “straw purchases” of guns and feature tighter school safety regulations.
Majority Leader harry Reid needs to muster 60 votes to stop a Republican filibuster and open up the bill for debate. A watered-down, Republican-sponsored alternative might be enough to defeat the current bill and give Grassley’s legislation a chance.
Grassley is gradually gathering support from other GOP senators. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell revealed that he is interested in Grassley’s bill, saying, “Chuck Grassley is putting together an alternative we’re taking a look at. From his description of what he’s trying to put together … it might be something I can support.” According to one Senate Republican aide, rightwing government officials view Grassley’s legislation as a last resort back-up plan in case Reid collects 60 votes.
Not all opponents of the upcoming gun control bill are in Grassley’s corner, though. Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin is also working on a water-down alternative. Though, it’s still anybody’s guess whether Manchin’s bill will aid Grassley in bolstering the filibuster or simply stick Republicans with the perceived lesser of two evils.
The vague terminology surrounding this bill leaves more questions than answers. Without performing background checks, how will gun distributors be able to distinguish straw purchases from genuine purchases? What will the bill do to protect schools? With the clock ticking, Grassley may need to provide Senators with a more concrete battle plan if he hopes to rally Republicans on voting day.