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01/31/2013 12:55 pm ET

Soledad O'Brien To Chuck Grassley On Assault Weapons: Most Perpetrators 'Have Been White Men' (VIDEO)

Soledad O'Brien grilled Senator Chuck Grassley over gun control on Thursday's "Starting Point," and rejected his suggestion that the problem of gun crimes in Chicago lies with "black violence on blacks."

Grassley, a pro-gun senator from Iowa, has shown a willingness to debate gun control, but also expressed skepticism of certain proposals. On Thursday, O'Brien pressed Grassley to explain his opposition to background checks for gun purchases, a ban on assault weapons and funding for CDC research on gun violence.

“The Center for Disease Control is all about studying diseases, and ownership of guns is not a disease,” Grassley said.

“If you look at a city like Chicago, where there has been just massive, massive deaths from gun violence," O'Brien countered. "That’s not a public health issue?”

“Well, I think that's the place in our society where you would study the issue of black violence on blacks,” Grassley replied. "Most of those guns are pistols and not the guns that you’re talking about on this program."

“Well, certainly when we are looking at assault weapons, I know that you know that most of the perpetrators have been white men,” O'Brien pointedly noted. She added that the CDC spent $2.5 million studying gun violence in 1993, and that "studying the issue would be a good idea for everybody."

"I said I agree with you because that's part of the mental health issue that we have to deal with, yet, during this debate," Grassley replied. "Because in everyone of these instances that keeps cropping up, where mass killings, people had mental health issues. They shouldn’t have had guns in the first place."

(h/t Raw Story)

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