On Friday (May 3),  U.S. Senator Mark Pryor addressed the Delta Caucus Conference in the Great Hall of the Clinton Library focusing mainly on agriculture issues, but it was the issue of gun control that made news.

During a Q&A with reporters after his speech, Senator Pryor said there was some talk of creating a bill that took the best parts of Manchin-Toomey and the Grassley Amendment to create a new bill and that he would look at such a bill, but would only make a final judgment after seeing the bill.

Senator Pryor said:

“After the vote Senator Manchin has talked about maybe reworking his bill possibly. There’s some discussion of maybe taking the best parts of Grassley [Amendment] and the best parts of Manchin-Toomey and trying to put something together. And that may happen. I don’t know if that’s happening right now because we’re all on recess right now and listening to the folks back home. If someone wants to put something together I’ll certainly look at it and I’ll make a judgment based on what they put together.”

And the issue of gun control was brought up during the Q&A with the audience. Pryor noted that he voted for the Grassley Amendment which he believed was better bill and expanded background checks. He also expressed some frustration that so much attention was focused on Manchin-Toomey and that the Grassley Amendment didn’t get enough focus.

“I felt like Grassley {Amendment} was a much stronger, better approach than Manchin-Toomey,” said Pryor. Pryor went on to say, “There’s a lot of differences in these two pieces of legislation that I felt like people in Arkansas and the nation once they understood Grassley would like Grassley better.”

Pryor then covered the reasons why he believed the Grassley Amendment was superior legislation to Manchin-Toomey such as better federal and state agency data collecting, prohibiting the practice of straw purchases of guns, more funding for the COPs program and more funding for mental health care. . The COPs program was a Bill Clinton initiative that put 100,000 more officers on the street. And in Arkansas about 40% of those officers are school resource officers.

Pryor said in his speech various outside groups often attack him for two reasons: 1) He takes the time to read legislation 2) He listens to the folks in Arkansas.

Pryor elaborated further on outside interests groups and their effect on Arkansas politics in a post-speech interview.

Pryor said:

“I don’t think they’ll have a big effect. I think people in Arkansas know I read the legislation and listen to the folks back home and they know I make an independent judgment. They also understand when you look at my ten years in the Senate I’ve been among one of the most independent Senators in Washington.”

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Michael Cook is the moderator for his opinion blog, Cook's Outlook. He can be reached by e-mail at Michael@CooksOutlook.com. Follow him on Twitter: @mcookAR or on Facebook: facebook.com/CooksOutlook.

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