Is There an Illegal “No Guns” Sign in Your Neighborhood?  Maybe you didn’t know that political subdivisions (counties, cities, townships, their extensions, etc.) can’t deny your civil rights.  But they’re often in the habit of doing so.  This letter should interest you!  If there are illegal “No Guns” signs in your neighborhood, you’ll want to understand what you need to do, and how you need to handle it.  This is an example of the daily work IFC does that few understand, which is why we need your continual support.

This is a recent correspondence from our board member and longtime lobbyist, Richard Rogers, to an Iowa County that plastered “No Guns” signs on public property.  Let’s call the recipient of the letter, “Mr. Smith,” and the county, “County,” to make this universal.  Here you go:

Dear Mr. Smith,

Please allow me to introduce myself. I am a Board Member and a longtime volunteer lobbyist for Iowa Firearms Coalition (IFC). A primary mission of IFC is to ensure that Iowa governments recognize, protect, and respect the fundamental right of Iowans to keep and bear arms. This right is protected from government infringement by the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution and Section 1A of the Iowa Constitution.

I am writing to you because I have been informed that the County Center (CC) has in place a “No Weapons” policy and currently displays signage to that effect in your facility (or facilities?). It appears to me that CC is owned and operated by the County. Therefore, please be informed that Iowa Code 724.28 prohibits counties, cities, and townships from establishing or maintaining any such policies, whether directed at the public or employees. Here is the relevant excerpt:

724.28(2) A political subdivision of the state shall not enact an ordinance, motion, resolution, policy, or amendment regulating the ownership, possession, carrying, legal transfer, lawful transportation, modification, registration, or licensing of firearms, firearms attachments, or other weapons when the ownership, possession, carrying, transfer, transportation, or modification is otherwise lawful under the laws of this state.

Furthermore, any person “adversely affected” by such a policy has standing to sue for declaratory and injunctive relief and damages. The prevailing party in such a suit will be awarded attorney fees and court costs [724.28(3)].

There is a provision [724.28(4)] that would allow for a “no weapons” policy in your facility under very specific conditions. That is “if adequate arrangements are made by the political subdivision to screen persons for firearms or other dangerous weapons and the political subdivision provides armed security personnel inside the building or physical structure where the restriction is to be in effect.” Without both of those measures in place, any policy restricting the carrying of possession of weapons is unlawful.

In 2021, Judge Joel Yates of the Iowa District Court for Monroe County slapped down an attempt by Monroe County to ignore Iowa Code 724.28 and ruled definitively that local governments not only may not implement or enforce their own policies on weapons, but that even implying the existence of such a policy through signage is unlawful. Here is the relevant portion of Judge Yates order of 6/30/2021:

Monroe County and its officers, employees, and third parties under its control, are enjoined from enforcing any policy,practice, ordinance, or resolution contrary to Iowa Code § 724.28, including the posting of signageappearing to communicate such a policy.

It may also be of interest to you that a bill, HF518, has been introduced in the Iowa House that would establish a schedule of significant monetary damages to be assessed against those individuals who participate in establishing or maintaining a policy in violation of Iowa Code 724.28. Such a statute was enacted by Florida in 2011 and proved to be very effective in eliminating legacy violations of the state’s firearms preemption policy and preventing new ones.

I strongly urge that the management of CC act promptly to comply with Iowa law. This communication should not be considered to be a threat of legal action, but rather my attempt to inform you of the facts regarding Iowa’s preemption of weapons regulation to the state. Please feel free to contact me if I may be of assistance in this or any other matter.

Richard S. Rogers
Board Member, Iowa Firearms Coalition