Grassley Town Hall in Wapello centers on national gun debate

WAPELLO, Iowa -

The debate over gun control, pro and con, dominated discussion at a Town Hall meeting here with Sen. Chuck Grassley, (R) Iowa.

"There's an addition you can put on a rifle to make it a submachine gun," Sen. Grassley said, on Friday, February 23.  "It seems to me common sense that it shouldn't be there."

Nearly 100 guests listened as some verbally sparred with the senator.

"You have an 'A' rating from the NRA," said a retired teacher.  "You have received money from the NRA."

Raw emotions from supporters and opponents following recent mass shootings in Las Vegas, Texas and Florida.

"There's no such thing as an assault weapon," said another participant.  "The weapon can't assault."

Here in Wapello, the meeting symbolizes deep divisions over gun control.  The solutions seem to be almost as split.

Sen. Grassley said these are themes he's hearing this past week across Iowa.

"When it hits kids as opposed to adults, it's a little different story," he said.  "You can understand why people are legitimately emotional about it."

Some aim to protect the status quo while others are pushing for restrictions.

"Ban gun-free zones, across the board?" asked another participant.

"If we're going to have guns in the Burlington schools, the Burlington School Board has to make that decision, not us in Washington," said Sen. Grassley.

All of this is part of the senator's 99-county tour.  He also made stops in Burlington, Muscatine and Manchester on Friday.

"If it takes 30 rounds to shoot some animal, you're not shooting very well," added another.

In this national debate, strong feelings are a part of the process.  That includes debating guns and safety for children.

Gary Marquardt, past state commander of the Iowa VFW, just wants to protect his granddaughter.

"I want her safe when she walks in the school," he concluded.  "I'll volunteer every day to go sit on the steps of that school and protect that child."