Bull Moose Club Welcomes Iowa Firearms Coalition

Iowa Firearms Coalition President Barry Snell talks with Bull Moose Club members

DES MOINES-Iowa Firearms Coalition President Barry Snell shared their mission of protecting Second Amendment Rights for Iowans at the Bull Moose Club luncheon in Des Moines on Tuesday.  He explained how the IFC was formed and gave an update on their legislative achievements since their formation in 2010.

“IFC got started because Iowa used to be a “May Issue” state.  Basically, that means that even if you met the requirements to own a firearm, a county sheriff had the discretion to choose whether or not they would issue you a weapons permit.  We didn’t feel that was fair, so we advocated to change the law so that Iowa would be a “Shall Issue” state, meaning that if you were eligible, the sheriff would have to issue you a permit.  We were successful at getting that passed in spite of a Democrat trifecta in the House, Senate, and Governor’s office because we have good relationships with legislators.  Iowa is primarily rural, which means that most legislators come from rural areas.  Even Democrats in Iowa tend to be pro-gun for that reason.”

Barry is proud of the role that IFC played in the results of the 2016 Election.

“We flipped three out of four of the state Senate seats we got involved in, which was a huge part of winning a Republican majority.”

IFC also had some major accomplishments in making Iowa a more gun-friendly state during the most recent legislative session.

“HF 517 was a comprehensive bill that expanded civil rights for people carrying firearms.  One of the things that this legislation included was Stand Your Ground.  Stand Your Ground is commonly confused with Castle Doctrine, but the difference is that Stand Your Ground allows you to defend yourself anywhere, not just in your own home.  There’s a myth that Stand Your Ground means Shoot First, Ask Questions Later, but that’s not what it is at all.  What it does is protect you from civil prosecution.  That immunity means that you won’t have to be dragged through years and hundreds of thousands of dollars in court.”

HF 517 streamlines the permit process in several ways, making it safer and more convenient for permit holders.

“Another part of HF 517 allows permit holders to renew their licenses every five years without having to re-take a training course.  Also, if you are carrying your gun and accidentally forget to bring your permit with you and get caught, the penalty is now a fine instead of being charged with a misdemeanor.  We also privatized the records of permit holders.  We used to have problems with newspapers publishing lists of individuals with a weapons permit, and many of these gun owners were being harassed and burglarized after these lists were published.”

The bill removed the age restriction for shooting handguns.

“Before HF 517, kids under the age of 14 couldn’t shoot handguns.  They weren’t even allowed to touch them or their ammo.  A lot of people were violating that law and didn’t know they were doing it.  We even had legislators standing up in committees and saying, “I’m a felon!”

IFC has expanded the options that gun lovers have in the types of weapons they can own.

“We legalized short barrel rifles and shotguns, and last session we legalized suppressors.”

Barry said that HF 517 protects Iowans in cases of disasters and emergencies.

“This bill prohibits the government from confiscating your guns if there’s a state of emergency.  This was a big deal a few years ago when the government in New Orleans and the state of Louisiana seized firearms from their citizens after Hurricane Katrina.”

HF 517 also includes stricter penalties for straw purchases of weapons.

“It was already a federal felony to make straw purchases.  It’s now also a state felony.”

Barry believes that the IFC is a prime example of successful citizen advocacy.

“IFC is a model for how grassroots works.  We’re all volunteers here.  We learned that elections matter, and that they have consequences.  You can be that person knocking on doors and contacting your legislators.  That’s how our government works.”

MacKenzie Dreeszen is a legislative assistant in the Iowa House and a political consultant specializing in fundraising.