As you’ll recall, early in the Iowa legislative session Representative Matt Windschitl (R-HD17) introduced a bill to legalize suppressors. This common sense gun rights measure would have brought Iowa in line with 39 other states that have already legalized suppressors–none of which have seen any reportable increase in crime we might add.
Then on February 27th, the suppressor bill came to a vote in the Iowa House of Representatives, where according to the Cedar Rapids Gazette, “a bill to protect Iowans’ liberties and their hearing sailed through the Iowa House Thursday on an 83-16 vote” There were a lot of excited firearms enthusiasts in Iowa. And rightfully so. The bill passed by a bipartisan landslide, with only 16 representatives–all urban Democrats–voting against the bill.
Freedom loving Iowans were optimistic. Not only had the suppressor bill sailed through the House, but gun owners had been busy writing their state senators as well, urging them to support the suppressor bill when it moved from the House to the Senate. Statewide, Iowans had received pledges to support the suppressor bill from every single Republican senator and 20 out of 26 Democrat senators. By all measures, it looked as the suppressor bill would pass through the Iowa Senate as easily as it did the House.
But despite all that support, from Republicans AND Democrats, the suppressor bill was given the kiss of death. Senate President Pam Jochum (D-SD14) assigned the suppressor bill to the Senate Judiciary Committee. Before the bill even landed on his desk, chairman of the Judiciary Committee Rob Hogg (D-SD33) declared that, “…it is my plan not to take up any firearms legislation this year.” Right after the House overwhelmingly approved the bill, Senator Hogg said, “I see nothing urgent about this.”
Nothing urgent about your rights, apparently! Then, as promised, Rob Hogg did nothing. The suppressor bill, with its overwhelming bipartisan support, was never scheduled for a vote in the Senate Judiciary Committee, it never left the Senate Judiciary Committee, and it never came to a vote in the full Senate.
In the final hours of the legislative session back in late April, there was one final attempt to breathe life back into the suppressor bill. In the House of Representatives, legislators tied the suppressor bill to an appropriations bill as an amendment. They passed the suppressor amendment back and forth with the appropriations bill, taking it out and putting it back in several times. But when the dust finally settled, it was the Senate Democrats who stripped the suppressor amendment from the appropriations bill and passed it on a straight party line vote. 26 Democrats passed the appropriations bill without the amendment that would have legalized suppressors.
Rob Hogg had done his part, procedurally blocking the suppressor bill from coming to a vote in the Senate–meaning all of those Senate Democrats who had pledged to support the suppressor bill would not have to go ‘on record’ voting in favor of restoring the rights of Iowans. Indeed, in the 11th hour of 2014 legislative session, when those same Democrats had a golden opportunity to stand up and make good on their word to support the legalization of suppressors, they all turned their backs on their pledges. Every. Single. One. Of. Them. They stripped the appropriations bill of all language that would legalize suppressors, passed the bill with every single one of their members falling in line, and in the process killed the last chance the suppressor bill had.
This isn’t the first time this kind of thing has played out in the Iowa Legislature. Time and time again Rob Hogg has used his chairmanship of the Senate Judiciary Committee to play politics and block bills that would restore your rights. Stand Your Ground, a Right to Keep and Bear Arms amendment to the state constitution, gun owner privacy protection, legalization of suppressors…ALL of these bills have passed the House but died in the Senate. We’ve tried for years to work with the Senate Democrats and find another way to pass these bills, but they fail to come around. Their actions have truly spoken louder than their words.
Election day is near at hand. The Iowa Firearms Coalition has been and remains bipartisan, but history has made it painfully obvious that Senate Democrats are not interested in working with us, so it’s time to make a change. If we expect any further progress on restoring gun rights in Iowa, we MUST make a change: We must flip the Senate to a Republican majority to get anything done, plain and simple.
We need your help to make this happen. Voting is the very least you can do. We need is for you to talk to your friends, your co-workers, your hunting buddies and tell them what you’ve learned here, how so many gun rights bills have been killed in the state senate. But we also need more than just talk, we need you to donate, and we need you to volunteer. Your time and money will help us make a much-needed change in Des Moines.
We don’t know what the future holds, but we know what we’ve seen in the past, and its high time for a change. If you’re frustrated with the lack of support you’re getting in our state capitol, please join us!