The Ottumwa Courier

February 21, 2013

Grassley fields tough questions from Albia High School students

Senator asked about gun control, debt, immigration

CINDY TOOPES
Courier Staff Writer

OTTUMWA — High school students in Albia aren’t afraid to ask tough questions, and U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley isn’t worried about answering them.

Grassley had planned meetings with Iowans in 16 counties during the U.S. Senate’s February recess week. On Wednesday, he visited Albia High School and conducted a question-and-answer session with the students.

The first student asked the senator about gun control and what measures he would prefer.

“My vote allows to keep the guns,” he said. “But, we won’t ban the guns, but we want to make sure felons are in a database.”

Grassley said 13 states are now reporting felons due to recent mental health killings.

One student said she knows a woman who has bouts of depression and wants to protect herself. She wondered if the woman, age 30, could buy a gun.

Grassley said the woman should be able to buy a gun unless the records say she can’t have one.

U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin has announced he will not seek re-election in 2014, and a student wanted to know if Grassley was going to do the same when he’s up for election in 2016.

“I haven’t decided,” he said. “It’s too early to decide. Right now we’re working on the economy.”

Another student asked if Americans are going to get out of debt.

“I wish I could say yes,” Grassley noted. “I do want manageable debt. We did pay down 12 years ago.”

What’s important to do is review the year and have year-to-year analysis of how money was handled. Then the government has to be conservative for several years, according to Grassley.

What about illegal immigrants?

Grassley said new citizens from different countries want the liberties Americans have.

“If I hear Americans griping, I remind them of how good we have it in the U.S.,” he added.

New citizens from different countries are happy about the liberty in America, and they appreciate it more, Grassley said.

Being a citizen means privileges, freedoms and carrying the responsibility to vote, pay taxes and “do what we can to improve.”

Does Grassley golf, fish or do other activities that promote citizenship?

“I live life to be an example of citizenship,” he said. “I have opportunities, I make laws and sometimes I make mistakes.”