Shooting War: Battle raging over Second Amendment rights in Iowa

Second AmendmentBy Bob Eschliman


The omnibus gun bill proposed earlier this session was supposed to be a miraculous achievement in improving Second Amendment rights in Iowa.

It had broad bipartisan support in both the Republican-controlled House of Representatives, and the Democrat-controlled Senate. It had support from Second Amendment advocates and law enforcement.

It was far from the perfect bill, but it was about as close as one could get in a split-government situation like the one Iowans face at the Iowa Statehouse.

The heady days of enthusiasm and excitement for Senate File 137/House File 527 seemed like a lifetime away this week as two prominent Second Amendment organizations in Iowa not only took opposing views on the bill, but then went after each other. Charges of lies and deception, of shady backroom deals, and of sold-out principles are now being flung in both directions.

The problem began when, after negotiations between House and Senate leadership on the omnibus gun bill were completed, the Senate amended its version of the bill. It was compounded when HF 527 passed with an overwhelming bipartisan vote, was ignored by Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal.

But the situation hit an all-time low when, just before the second funnel deadline, the Senate adopted a version of its bill that gutted nearly all of the Second Amendment provisions of the original omnibus gun bill. The House quickly responded by taking up the Senate version and tacking on its own amendment, which quickly passed last week by the same overwhelming bipartisan vote as the original omnibus gun bill.

And that’s when Iowa Gun Owners cried foul.

“The omnibus bill started out decent in the House, was gutted and stripped in the Senate, and was sent back to the House last week for ‘cleanup.’ And folks, this new version is awful!” Aaron Dorr of IGO said. “Capitol insiders are reporting to us that anti-gunners in the Senate, especially Steve Sodders, are desperate to move a gun bill and so they went to House leadership and worked out a treacherous deal. As a result, the new omnibus bill that many gun owners supported in the past is now almost unrecognizable.”

The specific portions of the newly amended SF 137 that run afoul of IGO, according to Dorr, are:

  • A new clause that will allow anyone, even convicted felons, to submit YOUR name to the DPS or your sheriff and demand to know whether or not you have a permit to purchase or carry a firearm.
  • A searchable statewide database of firearms and firearms owners, which can be searched by employers, in certain circumstances.

“Understand that there are still good components in this bill. Of course there are, that’s a standard tactic used here at the Capitol,” Dorr said. “Gun grabbers will bring up a bill packed with anti-gun language that’s wrapped with some pro-gun language hoping that you’re not going to be willing to oppose them. Another tactic is to run a good bill, get a lot of media on it, and then once gun owners associate this bill as being a pro-gun bill they quietly gut, stuff, and destroy it – and if they are lucky you are still calling and emailing them supporting it.”

“Both tactics are being employed here and, frankly, it’s insulting,” he added.

Dorr said the following legislators “conspired together” to make the bait-and-switch happen: Senate Judiciary Committee chairman state Sen. Steve Sodders (D-State Center), House Judiciary Committee chairman state Rep. Chip Baltimore (R-Boone), and House Speaker Pro Tempore state Rep. Matt Windschitl (R-Missouri Valley).

Shortly thereafter, Iowa Firearms Coalition, a volunteer Second Amendment advocacy group affiliated with the National Rifle Association, issued a rebuke of IGO. In an update to its members titled, “New Lies Being Spread About Omnibus Gun Bill,” IFC stated:

“We’ve seen a lot of out-of-state anti-gun groups attack the Omnibus Gun Bill this year, and while that should be no surprise, we’re now seeing this bill come under attack from a handful of all or nothing “pro-gun” Iowans.

“To review here’s who we’ve been fighting all year-long:

  • Everytown for Gun Safety.
  • Moms Demand Action.
  • The Center for American Progress.
  • Americans for Responsible Solutions.
  • Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence.
  • And more.

“They are all big money, national level gun control groups run by the likes of Michael Bloomberg, Gabby Giffords, the Brady Campaign as well as others. And they’re all united and actively working against Iowa’s Omnibus Gun Bill.Now, these hardcore gun control zealots have a new friend and ally from right here in Iowa.A group of self-purported “gun owners” from here in Iowa are actively campaigning against this bill, and the many vital improvements it would make to the lives and rights of Iowa’s gun owners. This group has a track record of killing pro gun bills, and they have never gotten a single piece of legislation signed into law.What’s worse, they’ve adopted the gun-grabber’s model of using lies, half-truths, and deleting factual comments in order to keep well-meaning Second Amendment advocates confused and in the dark. Their behavior is shameful, and is once again doing more harm than good.”

IFC noted the many provisions of SF 137 they felt would be beneficial to Iowans, which include:

  • legalizing gun suppressors;
  • creating new and streamlined training requirements for renewal of permits to carry, and moving the time between training from 5 years to 10 years;
  • allowing for a renewal applicant to renew their permit under any of the current training requirements including shooting on a range if they so choose;
  • establishing that a veteran with small arms training will never have to go through initial or renewal training to obtain their permit to carry;
  • extending the window for qualifying training from the current 12 months now to 24 months, meaning that if an applicant has had any qualifying training in the last 24 months that will qualify them for their new or renewal permit;
  • creating a requirement for uniform permits throughout the state and establishing that all permits, carry and acquire, shall not be issued for a particular weapon nor can it contain any identifying information about the weapon including the make, model, serial number or any ammo used in the firearm, nor the applicant’s residence or Social Security number;
  • extending the permit to acquire from a 1 year permit to a 5 year permit, matching it with the permit to carry;
  • adding new language that if a permit is denied, and it is later determined that it should not have been, that the applicant can recoup reasonable attorney’s fees;
  • removing the “absurd” ban on parents being able to teach their child proper handgun safety if the child is younger than 14;

IFC also addressed the IGO concerns about the permit database, saying SF 137 only establishes a statewide verification system for law enforcement to determine if a permit is valid.

There is no new database, all permits are already on file with the state and have been for years,” it said. “This system merely creates a process by which law enforcement can verify the validity of a permit to carry. This benefits you by preventing law enforcement from having to seize the your weapon if you unintentionally forget your permit.”

It also addressed concerns about access to permit holders’ personal information. It stated the media would be blocked from collecting permit holders’ private information.

“Current law allows for any member of the public to request to see all of your personal information on your permit application,” IFC said. “Under the new provision, if they make the request they will only be given a yes or no answer as to whether your permit is valid and the validity dates of such a permit. The person making the request must also give their name, contact information and the reason they are making the request. This information will be kept on file in the sheriff’s office and be accessible to those who wish to inquire if someone has been asking about their permit.”

IFC lashed out again at IGO and other organizations opposed to SF 137, stating:

“Anyone that opposes the Omnibus Gun Bill opposes all of these measures. Anyone that works against this bill is saying they are against family rights, improving Iowa’s Permit to Carry system, gun safety training for kids, stopping the mass media from publishing interactive maps to permit holders, veterans rights, legalizing suppressors and more.

“It makes no difference what their reasons are, if anyone opposes the Omnibus Gun Bill they’re effectively saying they’re in favor of keeping things in Iowa the way they are. Whether it’s because they want to take away your rights, or because they’re too idealistic and waiting for the perfect bill, the end result is all the same. Iowans get nothing but more of the same.

“Fortunately through our talks with multiple key legislators we’ve learned that all of these anti-gunners efforts have amounted to little more than a bunch of hot air. As of right now the Omnibus Gun Bill still has the votes to pass, and we’re working overtime to keep it that way.

“However, all of this highlights the fact that the lawmaking process is not pretty and it’s far from ideal. If you sit around waiting for our legislative system to create and pass a perfect pro-gun bill you’re going to be waiting until the end of time.”