• Iowa Supreme Court Admits Unconstitutional Behavior & Commits to Continued Judicial Overreach

    December 21, 2017

    There’s cause for alarm on the bench of the Iowa Supreme Court. Chief Justice Mark Cady and his fellow justices have doubled down on their baseless ban on the lawful carry of firearms in courthouses statewide. The complete disregard of separation of powers by a rogue justice should be cause for concern for all Iowans, whether you feel strongly about your Second Amendment freedoms or not.

    For context let’s review the chain of events that led to our current situation:

    January through April 2017
    The Iowa Firearms Coalitions lead the grassroots effort to pass House File 517 the largest pro-Second Amendment bill in Iowa history. HF517 includes preemption enhancements allowing citizens to sue local governments who violate section 724.28 of Iowa’s weapons law. The preemption portion of HF517 proposes that if a political subdivision — county, city, township, etc., — wrongly preempts state firearm law by passing local weapons bans citizens can sue the political subdivision in question for violating 724.28 and have the weapons ban removed.

    March 14, 2017
    David Boyd, Molly Kottmeyer, and Sydney Kronkrow, all state paid lobbyists working on behalf of the Iowa Supreme Court register against HF517 and begin working to try to stop its passage.

    April 13, 2017
    Governor Terry Branstad signs House File 517 into law. Included in the bill is the update to 724.28 Iowa’s weapons preemption law. This is a major victory for Iowans as citizens now have the ability to effectively challenge and override anti-Second Amendment local governments. Lobbyists for the Iowa Supreme Court have failed their attempt to stop HF517 from being enacted.

    June 19, 2017 – 11 days before HF517 takes effect
    Chief Justice Mark Cady of the Iowa Supreme Court issues a memo (available here) declaring that every courthouse, including common areas and standard business areas, are now a gun free zones. This is a critical sticking point as this overreaching memo includes the non-court related areas where Justice Cady and the Iowa Supreme Court have no jurisdiction.

    IFC’s initial statement on Mark Cady’s unconstitutional courthouse weapons ban, released less than 24 hours after it was announced.

    June 20, 2017
    The Iowa Firearms Coalition publicly calls out the Chief Justice Cady and the Iowa Supreme Court for overstepping the court’s constitutional authority. Their June 19th memo wrongly implied the Iowa Supreme Court could write law for areas of the courthouses they have no jurisdiction over, i.e.; all public, non-court related areas of a courthouse. The Iowa Firearms Coalition points out that if it’s not a courtroom, judge’s chamber or jury room the courts have no constitutional basis to dictate what happens there. These areas, such as the county auditor’s office, recorder’s office and so on, are controlled by the local government, not the courts and therefore fall under Iowa’s weapons preemption law.

    July 1, 2017
    HF517 takes effect in its entirety, yet courthouses across the state continue to unlawfully ban qualified, law-abiding citizens from carrying firearms in their facilities. They continue to do so under the misguidance of Chief Justice Cady and the Iowa Supreme Court.

    July through December 2017
    IFC lobbyists and legislative allies work on getting the Iowa Supreme Court to acknowledge they overstepped their constitutional authority and rescind and clarify their June 19th memo.

    December 19, 2017
    Chief Justice Cady issues another memo (available here) regarding courthouse security. Instead of rescinding the June 19th memo Cady doubles down by declaring the Iowa Supreme Court will continue with their unconstitutional courthouse weapons ban. The only exception will be if county supervisors from individual counties take the unlikely step of coming to the Iowa Supreme Court and requesting to have the weapons ban rescinded in public, non-court controlled areas of their specific courthouse.

    In summary:
    The Iowa Supreme Court does have jurisdiction over court areas such as courtrooms, judge’s chambers, jury deliberation areas and the like. However, the Iowa Supreme Court overstepped its authority on June 19th by declaring entire courthouses, including those non-court areas, as weapons-free zones. Something they have zero power to do. The Iowa Firearms Coalition has pointed this out, both publicly and privately. Yet when challenged Cady and his Supreme Court colleagues double down, issuing a new supervisory order saying effectively saying “We’re going to keep the baseless law we wrote (without any constitutional authority to do so). If you don’t like our edict, you may have your county supervisors come ask us to repeal it in your county only. Meanwhile, we’ll continue to (wrongfully) operate as if we have jurisdiction over non-court areas in courthouses throughout the rest of the state.”

    Why Should I Support Guns in a Courthouse?!?

    There’s no doubt that firearms can make some people uncomfortable especially in a court setting. But don’t let your feelings about firearms, whatever they are, keep you from seeing the more significant issue at play right now. The Iowa Supreme Court’s unconstitutional courthouse weapons ban is indicative of a much bigger problem in Iowa – a Supreme Court gone rogue.

    Realistically speaking there are two possible situations at play here. The best case scenario (and I use that phrase loosely) is that the Iowa Supreme Court, under the leadership of Chief Justice Mark Cady, hasn’t read or doesn’t understand the US Constitution and the separation of powers laid out within it. Judges. Do. Not. Write. Laws. It’s as simple as that. This shouldn’t be anything earth-shattering, in fact, it’s high school civics class material. Yet writing their own law is precisely what the Iowa Supreme Court has tried to do in regards to how business is conducted in areas where they have zero jurisdiction. That’s scenario number one.

    Scenario number two is more likely, though it is significantly more alarming than ignorance. The scenario being the Iowa Supreme Court, under the leadership of Chief Justice Mark Cady, has willfully chosen to ignore the Constitutional boundaries placed on their office to enact their  baseless edict. Then when a spotlight is shined on their unconstitutional activity, the Iowa Supreme Court doubles down by acknowledging their actions but refusing roll back their unconstitutional dictate. Instead, they put in place an onerous process that limits any possible change an extremely narrow scope. Effectively they’ve said “Yeah, we’ve done wrong and overstepped. But we’re going to keep doing wrong and if you want us to stop you can’t come directly to us. You have to have someone else ask us to stop. Now if you do that we’ll stop, but even then we’re going to continue doing wrong in every other community in the state.”

    Over the last several months, the Iowa Firearms Coalition and our allies have asked the Iowa Supreme Court to show us specifically where they derive the authority to dictate how business is conducted in non-court areas. This point of contention has been brought up numerous times and every single time the Iowa Supreme Court is left tongue-tied. No legal doctrine grants Mark Cady and or any of his fellow Iowa Supreme Court justices the legal ability to do what they’re doing.  The Iowa Supreme Court continues to run amok because the People of Iowa allow them to. Because the legal system is confusing. Because black robes are meant to intimidate. Because the judicial branch of government is one most normal people actively avoid. But if we don’t stand up to them, if we don’t remind these justices that judges don’t write laws, that legislating from the bench is inexcusable, that judicial overreach is not only unconstitutional it is intolerable these rogue justices of the Iowa Supreme Court will only be emboldened to go further at the next available opportunity.

    So What?

    What’s happening in the Iowa Supreme Court is wrong, and it is much bigger than whether or not you can carry a firearm when you go to the county courthouse to pay your taxes. This is indicative of a Supreme Court that believes it’s perfectly OK flaunting the fundamental rule of law laid out in the Constitution of the United States. Fortunately, though there’s another date on our timeline that’s fast approaching. One that the Iowa Supreme Court fears and actively wants to avoid.

    January 8, 2018
    The Iowa legislature reconvenes. There are numerous legislators who’ve taken note of Chief Justice Mark Cady and the Iowa Supreme Court’s cavalier behavior and wanton disregard for the Constitution. These legislators are eager to remind these rogue justices that it’s the Iowa legislature, not the Iowa Supreme Court that writes legal code in our state.

    This summer Sioux County Representative Skyler Wheeler put it nicely when he said: “If the Supreme Court wants to act like legislators they need to start getting paid like legislators.” The Iowa Firearms Coalition is not going to let this insult go unchecked. We’ve already begun to put wheels in motion to place much-needed boundaries on the Iowa Supreme Court and remind them of their place in our governmental system. Expect to see much more on this matter. Please join us and help us right this wrong.


  • The Minnesota Reciprocity Problem – Why Language Matters

    August 17, 2015
    Minnesotans' new law makes great strides in reciprocity with neighboring states, but comes at a high price for anyone who lives out of state. It's a also a great example of how important specific words can be.

    Minnesotans’ new law makes great strides in reciprocity with neighboring states, but comes at a high price for anyone living out-of-state.

    By now you may have heard Minnesota no longer recognizes Utah’s concealed carry weapon permits, as well as three other states (Missouri, Texas, and Wyoming). What you may not have heard is this change in Minnesota law means Minnesotan’s now have reciprocity with nine new states, most notably North and South Dakota, their neighbors to the west. Prior to this Minnesota refused to recognize out-of-state concealed carry permits from any of their bordering states. This is a significant improvement for Minnesota residents, particularly those that live and work along the western border with North and South Dakota.

    BUT, the loss of reciprocity with the state of Utah has a direct impact on Iowans because tens of thousands of us have Utah permits to carry, which up until very recently meant we could legally carry in Minnesota. Now these Iowans will have to find other means to carry in order to remain lawful.


    Concealed carry reciprocity letter from the Minnesota DPS commissioner.

    This letter from the Minnesota Department of Public Safety explains why they dropped their reciprocity agreements with four states including Utah.

    It took pro-Second Amendment advocates in Minnesota years of hard work to secure reciprocity with their neighbors to their west. But unfortunately they ended their agreement with Utah and three other states all because of the interpretation of one word: similar.

    Lawmakers in Minnesota approved the update to their state’s carry law, but ultimately it’s up to Minnesota’s Department of Public Safety (DPS) to determine what other state’s carry laws apply. The mandate says in order to recognize an out-of-state carry permit, the state of origin must have a permitting system that is “similar.” So when the Minnesota DPS reviewed the updated carry law they determined that Utah’s permits are not similar because there’s no proficiency test in Utah. Which coincidentally is part of the reason they refuse to recognize Iowa’s Permit to Carry.

    There’s two important points to take away from this story. First, if we had national reciprocity this would never have been an issue. But more importantly…

    Words Matter.

    Had the Minnesota law been written another way, or updated so that the DPS had to maintain its current reciprocity agreements this story would be much different. But as it stands the interpretation of the words “substantially similar” falls to the DPS and at the end of the day this gives them a tremendous amount of power.

    Specific words truly do matter especially when it comes to changing laws. Every single word in a bill must be perfect. When the wrong word, or a weak or ambiguous word makes its way into a bill that gets signed into law the results can be utterly disastrous.

    May Issue vs. Shall Issue

    A perfect example of this took place right here in Iowa’s firearms community. Anybody remember the days of “May Issue” permits to carry? Before 2010 each county sheriff in Iowa got to choose who got a permit to carry concealed weapons and it was an absolute disaster. Residents of some counties had no problems getting permits, while others who were just as qualified had virtually no chance of ever getting a permit. All because of one single word in Iowa’s legal code–”may.” A county sheriff may issue a permit to carry to qualified individuals.

    It took seven years, thousands Iowans, and tens of thousands of emails, phone calls and volunteer hours to change that one word–may–to shall. It may not seem like much, but legally speaking the word may is vastly different from Shall. Changing that one single word single-handedly lead to a ten-fold increase in the number of Iowan’s with permits to carry.

    There’s plenty more examples to go around. We all know how the anti-gun zealots love to argue our Second Amendment rights need be reigned in ‘because they only apply to a “well regulated militia”‘ aka the National Guard or various military units. Not to private citizens. Fortunately they’re FLAT OUT WRONG. In the 2008 Heller case the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Second Amendment protects an individual’s right to possess and carry firearms. In plain English the court ruling effectively said the word militia means all lawful citizens, not just organized units of the US military. Once again specific words and their interpretation can make or break a law, amendment, bill, etc..

    The devil’s in the details

    That idiom rings especially true with gun laws. You may have a bill that looks great on the surface, but one misplaced word, one tiny slip up, or a single malicious entry by an anti-gun legislator can destroy months or years of hard work. The devil is truly hidden in the details, and anti-gunners without a leg to stand on will do often try to sour good legislation with bad language. This is something the Iowa Firearms Coalition is well aware of and constantly on the lookout for. Unfortunately for Iowans’s who work or travel in Minnesota, this latest change to their carry law is another example of how extremely important a pro-Second Amendment bill’s language is.

    The moral of the story: the next time you see a so-called “pro-gun bill” written or amended by anti-gun legislators think long and hard about their motivation and every single word they wrote.

    Iowa Firearms Coalition is an entirely volunteer, grassroots, Second Amendment advocacy group. Responsible for bringing uniformity to Iowa’s Concealed Weapons Permitting process, IFC’s members work to protect and enhance Second Amendment rights in Iowa. An affiliate of the National Rifle Association, the IFC actively seeks to foster and promote the shooting sports. Sign up for our email list for the latest on Second Amendment issues in Iowa. You can support our work by becoming a member, or making a donation. 

  • Could the Gay Marriage Ruling lead to National Carry Reciprocity?

    June 26, 2015
    Will the Supreme Court's June 26 ruling on gay marriage lead to national reciprocity? It should.

    Will the Supreme Court’s June 26 ruling on gay marriage lead to national concealed carry reciprocity? It should.


    Gay marriage = National Reciprocity?

    Today the US Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that no state can deny gay or lesbian couple’s right be married. Prior to today’s ruling gay and lesbian couples could get married in only 36 of 50 states.

    Regardless of how you feel about the gay marriage issue this SCOTUS ruling could have a serious impact on Second Amendment rights for millions of Americans around the country. Here’s why.

    Right now all 50 states generally allow their law-abiding residents to carry concealed weapons in one form or another. The problem is just because each of these states allow concealed carry doesn’t mean they all agree on who can carry in their state, and which out-of-state permits they recognize.

    A perfect example of this is the State of Illinois. Despite being forced by a court judge to acknowledge their own citizen’s right to carry concealed weapons, Illinois has said that no one from any other state is allowed to carry a concealed weapon in their state. They have zero reciprocity. Contrast this with states like Alaska or Vermont who recognize concealed carry permits from every single state in the country – 100% reciprocity.

    14th Amendment in play

    When the US Supreme Court struck down individual states’ right to decide for themselves who can and cannot get married they cited section one of the Fourteenth Amendment which reads:

    Amendment XIV

    Section 1.

    All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

    The parallels between the gay marriage ruling and the case for National Concealed Carry Reciprocity are now impossible to ignore. Particularly when you consider the last fourteen words of that clause cited by the Supreme Court of the United States – nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”

    This begs the question, under the Fourteenth Amendment if a state does not have a right to deny certain American’s the right to marry, why should a state still be allowed to deny certain American’s right to lawfully carry concealed weapons?

    No doubt the mindless #gunsense gun control zealots will attempt pick and choose what parts of this ruling applies. Of course they already do this with the current laws, so really it’ll be nothing new. Regardless the case for national concealed carry reciprocity appears to have just gotten a significant boost and deserves serious attention.


    Iowa Firearms Coalition is an entirely volunteer, grassroots, Second Amendment advocacy group. Responsible for bringing uniformity to Iowa’s Concealed Weapons Permitting process, IFC’s members work to protect and enhance Second Amendment rights in Iowa. An affiliate of the National Rifle Association, the IFC actively seeks to foster and promote the shooting sports. Sign up for our email list for the latest on Second Amendment issues in Iowa. You can support our work by becoming a member, or making a donation.