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Sen. Chuck Grassley sees opportunity to strongly condemn racism in wake of Buffalo shootings
He touts proposed legislation that would research violence in high schools
Sarah Watson - Quad-City Times
May. 18, 2022 4:20 pm
In the wake of a shooting in Buffalo, N.Y., motivated by racist ideology, Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said Wednesday he would continue to push to enact legislation he says is designed to identify and manage teenagers who show warning signs of imminent violence.
The 18-year-old accused of fatally shooting 10 people in a Buffalo supermarket graduated last spring from high school. Of 13 people shot, 11 were Black and two were white, authorities said.
During high school, according to national media reports, the man was held for psychiatric evaluation after saying he wanted to commit a murder-suicide. He was released a few days later.
"He was referred to mental health professionals and nothing was followed up as far as I know," Grassley said on a call with Iowa reporters, referring to the alleged shooter. "But if there was some question about his mental capabilities, his name should have been in the databank not to be able to buy a gun and he was able to get a gun. And so I'm talking to you about my EAGLES bill."
The EAGLES bill is named for the Stoneman Douglas High School mascot in Parkland, Fla., the school where 17 students were killed and 17 others injured in a mass shooting. Grassley said the bill would expand the U.S. Secret Service’s National Threat Assessment Center, by adding a national program to research violence in schools and develop and offer training for agencies and school officials on how to prevent violence.
Authorities say the accused Buffalo gunman made detailed plans before the killing, livestreamed them, and posted a racist diatribe. Grassley said the U.S. already has hate crime laws that add penalties for crimes motivated by hate.
"I think that this does give us an opportunity regardless of the bills on racism. It gives every one of us an opportunity to strongly condemn any and all forms of racism," Grassley said.
Grassley has been hostile to legislation regulating the purchase of guns. In 2021, Grassley blocked federal legislation requiring new background checks for private party gun transfers and expanding a 10-day review period for gun purchases and transfers.
Ukraine aid bill expected to be voted on this week
Lawmakers in Washington are expected to vote soon on a $40 billion package with aid to Ukraine. A handful of isolationist Republicans have voted against the bill in a procedural motion, arguing lawmakers should reroute the money to fortify the United States' southern border.
Grassley, and most Republicans, have voted for the bipartisan bill. Grassley characterized the bill as vital to holding Putin accountable and protecting America's security abroad.
"If you want peace on the globe, you got to respect international law, and Putin's not doing that," Grassley said. "Now, if you knew for sure he was going to stop at Ukraine, maybe forget about it. But we're very concerned about how far he's going to go. Is he going to go further and violate Poland, Lithuania?"
In a previous vote, 11 Republican senators and 57 House Republicans voted against the bill.
"People are generally bringing up, 'what about our own southern border?'" Grassley said. "It's the same principles involved. We have got to be as concerned about the border between the United States and Mexico as we are about respecting international law between Russia and Ukraine."