Prepared Statement by U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa
Ranking Member, Senate Judiciary Committee
on “Protecting Our Communities from Mass Shootings”
July 20, 2022
It was tragic to hear about the recent
shooting in Highland Park, Illinois, on July 4.
Senseless acts of violence have no place in our great country,
particularly on a day where we should be celebrating our community and
solidarity as a people. My heart breaks for victims and the families of those
victims. As a father and a grandfather, I can’t imagine what you are going
through. Sadly, we witnessed another shooting in Indianapolis over the weekend.
Thankfully, a lawfully-armed civilian with a firearm stopped the shooter before
more harm could be done.
The gunman of the Highland Park
shooting, who was 21 years old, held a valid Illinois firearm owners
identification card at the time. He legally purchased five guns in four
different transactions, passing federal background checks each time.
Yet, like several other mass shooters,
this perpetrator showed numerous warning signs over the years. He had previous
contacts with police. He attempted suicide. A family member reported he
threatened “to kill everyone” and his collection of knives was seized. Yet he
was not arrested, and no red flags were implemented when he purchased a
Illinois has some of the most
restrictive gun-control laws in the country. But that didn’t stop these
murders. A young man was showing obvious signs that he is considering violence,
but no one knew what these signs were. No one knew what his actions meant. No
one interceded. No one stopped him.
It would be easy to say that the system
just failed -- that the police should have done more. His family should have
But there actually is something that
would have made a difference. We have to educate the institutions in a person’s
life about these obvious signs of distress. These obvious signs that a person
is heading toward mass violence. Schools in many states have implemented a
threat assessment model. But more institutions: churches, workplaces, want
We need to take affirmative steps on
legislation for threat assessment and prevention services. A study of hundreds
of mass shooting incidents conducted by two professors showed eerie
similarities, repeated over and over, that aren’t always recognized.
I know every member of this committee
has heard me talk about the EAGLES
, which I first introduced in 2018. This
legislation will provide funding to support the Secret Service National Threat
Assessment Center’s efforts to conduct cutting edge research into the
prevention of violence. It would also enable the National threat Assessment
Center to train more of our nation’s schools and institutions in conducting
threat assessments and early interventions.
EAGLES is a vital missing piece that we have to implement if we want to reduce
these mass shootings. We can’t afford not to do it. We can’t keep seeing that shooter after
shooter followed this same predictable path, and nobody did anything. It could
be because they didn’t know what they were looking at, or they didn’t know what
to do. We have to fill that information gap with public education. Right now,
NTAC can’t afford to train everyone who wants this information. That has to
change. I’m pleading for that to change. I am not alone in these thoughts, EAGLES is cosponsored by 10 of my fellow
senators, representing both parties. I will also be submitting a statement from
the United States Secret Service Association supporting the EAGLES Act.
I know many of my colleagues on the
other side of the aisle don’t like guns. Some are not particularly impressed by
the appeals of Americans who desperately worry that one-size fits all gun
control will impede their right to self-defense. I have spoken with many who
are worried about restrictions on their right to self-defense, I will be
submitting for the record statements from the Asian Pacific Gun Owners
Association and a family member of one of the victims from the shooting in
Highland Park, both who are very concerned about restrictions being imposed on
their right to self-defense.
For those who see no need for an armed
citizenry, the solution to mass shootings could include a ban on so-called assault
weapons. This has already been tried in the 90s and early 2000s. I didn’t
support it then, and I wouldn’t support it now. These bans would be ineffective
and not consistent with the right of self-defense. In 2004, a Department of
Justice study concluded that after a ten-year assault weapons ban, there was no
statistically significant evidence that banning assault weapons reduced gun
We also know restrictive gun control
will hurt vulnerable communities that need to defend themselves against the
horrible spike in violent crime that began two years ago. According to the
National Shooting Sports Foundation, the primary trade association for the gun
industry, guns sales during the first half of 2020 increased year-over-year by
51.9 percent for whites, 58.2 percent for African Americans, 49.4 percent for
Hispanics and 42.9 percent for Asians. These numbers continue to grow, and
restrictive gun control that only affects law abiding citizens will affect this
new population of gun owners.
I hope my colleagues know that I am
always going to want to talk about solutions that keep communities safe. But
these have to be solutions based on evidence that respect the need for
self-defense. There are bipartisan things we can do. I hope the EAGLES Act will be one of them. And I
hope that will be very soon.