Jun 10, 2022 - Politics

Gun control shaping race between Sen. Chuck Grassley and Michael Franken

A photo of Michael Franken and a photo of Charles Grassley.
Michael Franken (left) and Sen. Chuck Grassley. Photos: Stephen Maturen and Anna Moneymaker via Getty Images

Buyers of assault weapons should be required to take hands-on training like people who purchase surplus firearms from the U.S. military, Michael Franken, Democratic candidate for Iowa's U.S. Senate seat told Axios Wednesday.

Why it matters: The retired U.S. Navy Vice Admiral won Tuesday's Democratic primary and will challenge Sen. Chuck Grassley in November's general election.

  • Gun control has gained new momentum in recent weeks and is quickly shaping into one of the key topics in the race with Franken criticizing Grassley for failing to support reasonable reforms.
  • In an interview with Axios, he also condemned Grassley for his "lax policies" on gun control.

State of play: While some states have restrictions like waiting periods, many Americans can purchase guns after passing an instant background check that reviews for certain criminal convictions, domestic violence and citizenship status.

  • Iowa does not require safety courses to buy or carry weapons.
  • Military surplus sales additionally require proof that the applicant participated in a marksmanship-related activity, which is some type of hands-on training or military service.
  • Military buyers must also be members of an organization affiliated with the Civilian Marksmanship Program, which includes thousands of groups like the DSM Rifle & Revolver Club.

What they're saying: People who purchase military surplus weapons are among the most responsible gun owners in America, Franken told Axios.

  • The program's qualifications process should be mirrored for anyone who buys assault weapons, he said.

The other side: Grassley supports multiple bills to prevent school violence, Michaela Sundermann, a spokesperson for his campaign, told Axios.

  • Some have been stalled by Democrats who say they want more focus on gun control rather than to codify safety practices
  • Grassley has indicated recently that he's open to reform proposals but has not said how he would vote on some specific ideas linked with high-power weapons.

Bottom line: Gun control is going to be a big topic in this race.

  • Both Franken and Grassley's team told Axios that their opponent was trying to appeal to an extremist fringe.
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