Staff Editorial

Teens, Iowans expect Grassley to champion solutions

Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Sen. Chuck Grassley's (R-Iowa) nameplate sits on the dais in the room where where the committee plans a meeting in the Hart Senate Office Building in Washington, D.C. on Friday, Mar. 17, 2017. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)
Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Sen. Chuck Grassley's (R-Iowa) nameplate sits on the dais in the room where where the committee plans a meeting in the Hart Senate Office Building in Washington, D.C. on Friday, Mar. 17, 2017. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)

Teenagers are questioning U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley’s push last year to roll back rules designed to keep firearms out of the hands of those with severe mental disabilities. Iowa’s senior senator should answer.

Florida teen Emma Gonzalez, a witness to the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, noted one year ago President Donald Trump signed a bill championed by Grassley to prevent the Social Security Administration from adding about 75,000 people on disability support to the national background check database. The group represents Americans suffering from psychotic disorders and other problems who are unable to take care of themselves. The Obama-era regulation was written after the Newtown, Conn., shooting where 26 lost their lives to a mentally disabled gunman — a response to congressional inaction.

“I don’t need a psychologist and I don’t need to be a psychologist to know that repealing this regulation was a really dumb idea,” Gonzalez said as part an emotional speech in which she mocked Grassley’s insistence that the government isn’t doing enough to keep firearms from the mentally ill.

Grassley’s office later circulated its reasons for supporting repeal alongside a list of like-minded advocacy groups — a diverse list that included the ACLU, the National Disability Rights Network and the National Association for Gun Rights, among others. Late Friday, the senator’s office circulated yet more information.

Grassley has long lamented the inability of state governments and federal agencies to cooperate and communicate information relevant to the national background check database. And, to his credit, he has convened hearings on the subject.

This week, questions from Grassley regarding warnings about the Florida shooter prompted FBI officials to brief congressional staff members.

But all of this talk has not resulted in action.

While perhaps imperfect, the Social Security Administration regulation applied only to people who require a personal management trustee; it included an option to appeal.

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Grassley says it did not adequately protect the rights of people with disabilities. The position is reasonable but still lacks an explanation as to why the rule was scrapped instead of improved.

Teenagers across the nation are asking; they deserve a complete answer.

• Comments: (319) 389-8262; editorial@thegazette.com

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