In his recent article, Jeff Knox of the Firearms Coalition has brought to light some very disturbing components of the NRA’s proposed concealed carry bill in Iowa. He mentioned our organization, Iowa Gun Owners, as the state based group that is opposed to this bill. He is correct. The 5,000 members and supporters of Iowa Gun Owners are concerned with the direction this new bill is heading.
As the Executive Director of Iowa Gun Owners, I have been asked by David Codrea to address the concerns that we have with this bill and explain why we are pushing so aggressively to pass the REAL Right-to-Carry bill. I will address our bill first. First let me give you some context on the current Iowa law.
Currently in Iowa, you have to obtain a permit to carry a concealed weapon. We suffer under a ‘may issue’ system that allows the sheriff complete discretion to deny permits for whatever reason he wants. Sometimes the sheriffs simply invent reasons or are bold enough to deny permits just because they don’t like guns. Likewise we have to obtain a permit to purchase a handgun in all but a few cases. Law abiding Iowans are not allowed to ‘open carry’ in any incorporated area, and most sheriffs will revoke permits and otherwise harass someone who open carries in a non-incorporated area. Iowa has no ‘stand your ground’ or ‘castle doctrine’ provision, and we can’t have class 3 weapons.
In this context Iowa Gun Owners produced and is fighting for the REAL Right-to-Carry bill. This bill would allow anyone, who is not a felon or barred by federal law, the right to carry a weapon for self-defense WITHOUT having to first beg government permission. This is currently the law in Vermont. Additionally, under this bill Iowans would be able to open carry if they so choose as well. Lastly, similar to the laws in Alaska, the bill would allow Iowans to apply for a ‘shall issue’ permit if they want one for reciprocity.
This is the best gun bill ever introduced in Iowa. We don’t believe that the 2nd Amendment talks about taking tests, begging permission, and paying fees before one should be allowed to exercise their constitutional rights. We do not believe that the best way to pass a gun bill is to make multiple concessions up front, trying to appease the anti-gunners at the capitol.
We want anti-gun politicians to vote on our gun bills in their pure form – declare their hostility to the 2nd Amendment in ways that we can use to show our members the true colors of their elected officials. If the anti-gun crowd wants to water down our bills on the floor, or outright ‘kill’ them, that’s on them. They may pay a price for that vote this November.
Our bill was introduced last session by Rep. Kent Sorenson. Despite pleas from both political parties to drop the bill, Sorenson held fast and forced a procedural vote on this bill in the final moments of the 2009 session. The result was an amazing 49-49 tie vote. Obtaining a vote, even a procedural vote, is vital because unless a politician is forced to vote on a gun bill they will continue to claim to be pro-gun without ever having to do anything to back that up.
For those who insist that this was an arranged vote or that it didn’t matter, they should have been there watching the Majority Leader (the Democrats currently have control of both chambers in Iowa) run from his desk to the ‘well’ and turn around and begin pointing to various Democratic Representatives making them change their votes to give them political cover in their districts. This only happened because even the anti-gunners realize that there is growing anger in Iowa over our bad gun laws. These Representatives don’t want to be on the wrong side of this anger. For that matter, why would any Democrat break away from their caucus and vote pro-gun on this bill if they weren’t concerned about possible backlash?
In this light, coming so close to passing the best gun bill in Iowa’s history through the House, we are disappointed that the NRA, with the support of IowaCarry.org, is supporting a much lesser bill.
What makes it a lesser bill? Mr. Knox has already done a fine job of detailing this, but I’ll summarize for those who have not seen his article.
- This proposal would allow the government the right to deny you a permit to carry if you’ve ever been arrested for any crime of abuse. Not indicted, not convicted, just arrested. You can, in theory, be cleared of a crime and still lose the right to carry.
- This proposal would allow the government the right to deny you a permit should any government agency issue a ‘written finding’ that sustains an allegation of abuse. Think about your nosey neighbor and what damage she can do should she see you spank your child and then call social services.
- This proposal raises the age on those who can apply for permits.
- This proposal incorporates dangerous federal language – language that is currently up for repeal at even the federal level- into Iowa code.
- This proposal calls for government mandated training – when many states don’t, including our neighbors in South Dakota.
- Finally, this proposal still requires that law abiding Iowans beg permission to carry concealed.
There are other problems in this proposal, but this should give you a good idea of our main concerns.
The members of Iowa Gun Owners want to know why shouldn’t we press ahead and focus our energies on the best gun bill available. Why concede so much ground up front when the anti-gunners in Iowa are afraid of a backlash in November of 2010?
We have a real chance here in Iowa to capitalize on the anger across the state; to propel Iowa from being one of the worst states in the country regarding concealed carry to one of the best. The REAL Right-to-Carry is our best shot. Please come and join us.
Aaron Dorr is the Executive Director of Iowa Gun Owners, a non-profit organization in Iowa dedicated to overturning Iowa’s abusive laws when it comes to the purchasing, carrying, and using firearms for self-defense. He can be contacted at