2018 Legislative Session Is Underway

The 2018 Legislative session has been gaveled in and I want to get everyone on the same page as far as where we’re at, where we’re going this session and where we’ve come from. First off, the Iowa Firearms Coalition (IFC) and the state of our organization. I’m confident saying that IFC is the strongest we’ve ever been. IFC’s leadership team has grown, and our capabilities have improved as a result. Our primary focus has always been legislative work, and that will remain, but expect to see growth in other areas as well the year goes on.

As we rack up more and more victories, IFC grows stronger. As we claw back chunks of our individual liberties, we get stronger. Whenever and wherever Iowans exercise their right to keep and bear arms and pass their love of freedom on from one generation to the next, we get stronger. Our strength comes from you, engaged Iowans willing to step up and make your voice heard in Des Moines and your community.

IFC’s ability to harness your love of freedom is only possible because of our supporting members. More than 3 million Iowans are more free today than they were ten years ago because Iowans like you said it’s time we started putting our money where our mouth is and start supporting those fighting for us in the state capitol. That was the genesis of the Iowa Firearms Coalition and as that happened around the positive state things began to follow suit. Shall Issue. Legalized suppressors. ATV Carry. Stand Your Ground. Short Barrel Rifles. Youth Shooting. Permit Privacy. All these victories and more are directly related to the growing number of IFC members.

In 2017 IFC made history with the passage of House File 517, a bill was effectively 20 pro-Second Amendment laws rolled into one massive victory. But that was then, and this is now. In a few days we begin our most ambitious endeavor yet: amending the Iowa’s state constitution.

2018 (and beyond)
After passing the most significant gun bill in the state history, plenty of people are now asking “How do you follow that up?” “What else could you possibly want?” “What now?!?” The answer is simple; there’s no shortage of work left to be done. For starters, the Iowa Supreme Court, under the leadership of Chief Justice Mark Cady, seems to think it’s OK for them to flaunt constitutional law and state law by enacting weapons bans in areas where they have zero jurisdiction. This is an issue that’s much bigger than whether or not you can carry in this place or that; it’s about the Iowa Supreme Court, their established pattern of judicial overreach and justices like Mark Cady thinking they have a right to dictate new laws rather than merely interpret the law. This constitution defying behavior affects all Iowans, but if we gun owners won’t stand fast in the face of this gross judicial overreach can we honestly expect anyone else to?

Putting the Iowa Supreme Court in its place is a priority. Getting the state to acknowledge the fact that Iowans’ rights don’t start and stop based on their location is another priority. When we passed Shall Issue in 2010, there were 39,000 Permit to Carry holders in Iowa.. Since then we’ve seen a sevenfold increase Iowa permit holders. There are now more than 275,000 permit holders in our state going about their lives in peace every single day. There’s no reason law abiding citizens like you should instantly be turned into felons because you decided to exercise your rights in the county courthouse or at the state fairgrounds or while picking your kids up from school.

Finally, and most critically, we have to plug the massive hole in our state constitution. Iowa is one of only six states in the country whose state constitution has no Right to Keep and Bear Arms claus. Put another way; there’s no ‘Second Amendment’ in our Iowa Constitution. This is a problem. A major problem that needs fixing as soon as possible. Without a Right to Keep and Bear Arms provision in our state constitution everything we’ve accomplished — Stand Your Ground, suppressors, SBRs, Shall Issue, etc. — could be wiped out by a runaway legislature or overzealous set of judges on our state supreme court who thinks they have the right to dictate their version of state gun law — sound familiar??? All it would take is either of these entities declaring that all previous gun laws in Iowa are void and suddenly hundreds of thousands of law-abiding Iowans become criminals. When challenged all they have to do is merely ask “Where in the state constitution does it say Iowans have any right to keep bear arms?” The sad part is, they’d be right. This God-given, natural right doesn’t exist according to state law. This must be changed.

Yes, this scenario would be a violation of the federal Second Amendment and yes we could attempt to get this overturned by United States Supreme Court. But that process is long and fraught with legal hearings, appeals and delays and takes many years to fix. Meanwhile, law-abiding Iowans could be left to live with the unconstitutional mess created by these freedom loathing anti-gunners. So we have two choices: continue rolling the dice with our rights -OR- we bear down, amend our state constitution, enshrine our right to keep and bear arms in Iowa and in the process stop this nonsense from ever starting.

It’s also worth noting that a Delaware gun ban in state parks was recently overturned because it violated the right to keep and bear arms provision in the state’s constitution.

These should be reason enough to amend the state constitution, but if you need more convincing, look at the lousy company we’re in. There are only five other states without a RKBA clause in their state constitution — New York. New Jersey. California. Maryland. And Minnesota. None of these states recognize their citizen’s right to keep and bear arms. I don’t know about you, but by and large, these are not the states I like being associated with.

How do we get there?
Make no mistake, amending the state constitution is not an easy task. In fact, it’s the most difficult task we can take on. It isn’t a matter of just introducing a bill and getting it passed by the legislature. If everything goes smoothly the absolute soonest we can get this done is 2020. The required path to a constitutional amendment looks like this:
2018 (Iowa’s 87th General Assembly) – Get the legislature to pass a bill with the RKBA language we want to be added to the state constitution.
November 6th, 2018 – Elect another pro-Second Amendment majority in the Iowa House of Representatives, Senate and maintain a pro-Second Amendment governor.
2019/2020 (Iowa’s 88th General Assembly) – Pass the same bill from 2018 during the legislature’s 88th General Assembly
November 3rd, 2020 – Statewide vote of the people on whether or not to add the approved Right to Keep and Bear Arms language to the Iowa Constitution. Needs a simple majority to pass.

If we can do all that, in that order and on that timeline, Iowa’s constitution will be amended to include a Right to Keep and Bear Arms. There’s no denying it; this won’t be easy. This is an ambitious undertaking, and there’s nothing more difficult we could do at the state level. But the state constitution is the foundation of our state legal system. And a constitution that recognizes your Right to Keep and Bear Arms is the bedrock that all of our other pro-gun laws rest upon. Without out it, everything we’ve accomplished is in constant danger of being undone by renegade anti-gunners.

My personal goal for 2018 is simple: Keep. The. Throttle. Down. We accomplished a lot last year, and I intend to keep the pedal to the metal. Like always, there will be plenty of naysayers and Chicken Littles seeking to mischaracterize, misrepresent and malign our member’s efforts. I fully expect IFC to be attacked and undermined by all kinds of groups, chief among them will be the gun control lobby who will almost certainly pair up (yet again) with Iowa’s so-called “No Compromise” (aka “Do Nothing”) Gun Owners group. But make no mistake, the Iowa Firearms Coalition is in the driver seat. Our resume speaks for itself, and I intend to make our list of Second Amendment victories even longer in 2018.

As we roll into 2018, I’m excited. IFC’s leadership team is chomping at the bit to build off last year’s success. We’re in the business of expanding Iowans freedom and our team is hungry for more. We’ve got a receptive audience in the legislature and the governor’s office. Our membership numbers continue to grow, and with every new IFC member, we get even stronger. When you’re ready to get in the game, join IFC members from across the state as we continue to make history. I look forward to standing alongside you in the fight to come.

Kurt Liske
Iowa Firearms Coalition

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  1. John Reed says:

    Well stated and most excellent essay, Kurt! In cannot be overstated just how important to the future of liberty the RKBA Amendment to the Iowa Constitution actually is! Go! Go! Go, IFC!!!

  2. I appreciate all the hard work you have done for the people of Iowa.


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