Richard Rogers, IFC Lobbyist and Board Member, offers us some perspective.
Despite any anxiety you may have due to recent anti-gun, anti-liberty developments in Washington, D.C., you’re probably feeling pretty confident that here in Iowa, your Second Amendment rights are recognized, protected, and respected by the law. But let’s imagine for a moment that you live in another state…
THAT state requires you to:
- Apply for, qualify for, pay for, and wait for a Permit in order to buy a gun
- Apply for, qualify for, pay for, and wait for a Permit to CARRY a handgun – and furthermore
- A local official has absolute discretion whether to grant that Permit to Carry and as to what restrictions to place on it
- That “personal protection” is NOT considered a valid reason to issue a Permit to Carry
- There is NO appeal available to those denied a permit – and no refund
- The permit application process must be repeated EVERY year
- All permit application information is available to the public and regularly published in newspapers and online
- As a result, fewer than 1 person in 100 is ever granted a permit
For those (nearly everyone) who do NOT have a Permit to Carry, the weapons laws are so strict that:
- An ammunition magazine containing even a single round is considered to be “a loaded firearm”, even if no gun is present
- The mere act of carrying a firearm may be considered “going armed with intent”
- Instructing a youth under age 14 in the safe handling and use of ANY handgun is a serious crime – and a felony on the second offense!
- A permit holder commits a crime if he/she does not possess and display it on-demand to any peace officer
- Hunters in the field are prohibited from carrying a defensive handgun
- It is a crime to carry a defensive handgun on an ATV or snowmobile, even WITH a Permit to Carry or ON ONE’S OWN PROPERTY
- Carrying a stun gun or a knife with a blade over 5” under one’s coat or in a purse is a serious crime
- Firearm sound suppressors, short-barreled rifles and short-barreled shotguns are classified in the same way as machine guns and possession is a felony
- Local governments, library and park boards, etc. feel free to place local restrictions on your right to keep and bear arms. If you decide to petition your legislators at the Capitol, you will find yourself disarmed at the door.
- Those citizens who may be forced to use reasonable defensive force to repel aggressive force against themselves or their families may have a “duty to retreat” and can be subject to prosecution if a prosecutor, judge, or jury believes they should have done so.
Even if you were one of the LUCKY few who were issued a Permit to Carry in that state after jumping through all the hoops, you’d probably feel that your Second Amendment rights were being pretty seriously infringed upon. Right now, you are probably wondering what state that is (Illinois? Massachusetts?) and are grateful for being an Iowan.
Well, the state described above was Iowa just a decade ago.
We Iowans are fortunate, in that over the course of the last ten years, our legislature has removed every single one of the restrictions on our Second Amendment rights listed above. The last of them will fall away on July 1st, when the latest changes to the law go into effect.
These changes did not happen by chance but are a testament to what determined and sustained effort by a few citizens can accomplish. Fifteen years ago, four men who were unhappy with Iowa’s terribly inequitable “may issue” weapons permit system, began to organize a movement to change the law to a “shall issue” system, as so many states had already done since the late 1980s. That movement quickly grew from a coffee klatch to an email bulletin board group and then to a statewide organization called Iowa Carry, Inc. The movement gathered attention and strong support and by 2010, legislators and the Governor were convinced to change the law and enact a very good “shall issue” system.
Iowa Carry had accomplished its singular goal and was forced to make a decision. Should the group disband – or should it broaden its goals and become a permanent organization? It chose the latter course, became Iowa Firearms Coalition (IFC), and officially affiliated with its allies, the National Rifle Association.
Since that time, IFC volunteers have worked continuously to further improve Iowa’s laws and regulations governing weapons, use of force, hunting, etc. Working with our partners at NRA, we have had tremendous success in persuading legislators to do the right thing, especially in the last five years.