By Katie Dahlstrom
Herald Staff Writer
U.S. Sen. Charles Grassley discussed guns, the farm bill, energy and a wealth of other issues with Wendling Quarries employees in DeWitt as part of his annual 99 counties tour.
The Republican senator stopped at the quarry on Thursday to field questions from employees.
When Wendling Quarries President Tony Manatt posed the question “who owns a gun?” nearly all of the roughly 50 people in the crowd raised their hand.
“I don’t expect that there’s going to be any more prohibition that doesn’t already exist. In other words, more prohibitions against guns,” Grassley said.
Grassley has spoken out against President Barack Obama’s gun control proposal in recent days, saying it conflicts with the second ammendment.
During the meeting Thursday, Grassley also criticized the president’s policies on energy, spending and appointments.
“He takes an oath to uphold the constitution, but he doesn’t uphold it,” Grassley said.
Mental health issues will need to be addressed along with gun control, the Senator said.
“It’s not an easy thing to deal with the mental health issue, but that’s something that has to be dealt with,” Grassley said, pointing to the mental health issues that connect to the various acts of violence across the country like the attack on Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, the theater shooting in Aurora, Colo., and the shooting at Connecticut grade school Sandy Hook Elementary. “On the other hand people want us to pass various laws outlawing guns or putting restrictions on making sure that everyone’s got to check with a database and all that stuff. But the bottom line is all the guns that were purchased legally by the mother and stolen by the son. So if somebody’s going to steal a gun to the bad stuff that was done, you aren’t going to cut out every opportunity to do that.”
Grassley said while the focus is being directed toward assault rifles, they are not the most detrimental.
“There are pistols out there that are used more by criminals and do more damage than these do,” Grassley said.
Beyond the gun issue, one concern on the employees’ minds was the farm bill legislation that was only passed as a one-year extension.
Grassley delivered good news, telling the concerned crowd he sees an end.
“We ought to be able to get a five-year farm bill by this year,” Grassley said. “I expect it to get done by mid-summer. Maybe even before then.”
He also fielded questions on the energy. In his response to the potential future cost of gasoline, Grassley said he expects the price of gas would not rise if all the oil and natural gas were harvested. However, he doesn’t believe the president would support this approach.
“This president says he’s for all of the above. The fact is, he’s for all of the above, but nothing below the ground,” Grassley said.