With both chambers of the Iowa legislature now under Republican control, Iowa Firearms Coalition (IFC) appears ready for a year full of action in Des Moines. In a recent communique, Barry B. Snell, IFC’s Executive Director, expressed enthusiasm that many of the groups legislative goals would reach fruition this year. In previous years these bills had languished in the Democrat-controlled Iowa Senate. I’ve been a member of this group since way back when they were still called “Iowa Carry” and I’ve never seen a declaration from them expressing this much certainty of getting bills passed.
First on IFC’s to-do list is a right to keep and bear arms (RKBA) amendment to the Iowa Constitution. Snell points out that ours is one of only six states that doesn’t have a provision protecting citizens’ guns rights in its state constitution. The progress we make on gun rights in the state could be swept away quickly without the “set in stone” protection of a state constitutional amendment.
Since amending the state constitution is a complicated multi-year process, IFC wanted to get the ball rolling as soon as possible. (Appropriately, on the opening day of Iowa’s 2017 legislation session this Monday, 29 lawmakers in the Iowa Senate introduced Senate Joint Resolution 2 (SJR2) to add this amendment.)
Snell next mentions “The Youth Safe Shooting and Parental Rights Act.” Almost passed last year, this bill would fix Iowa’s nonsensical law which makes it illegal for parents to teach their children under 14 how to safely handle a handgun. Since the current law is so silly and unknown to most people, Snell rightly points out that it has probably made “thousands of otherwise good, law-abiding Iowans into unwitting felons – and for no good reason!” Snell seemed all but certain this bill would be signed into law this year.
Next in IFC’s agenda are the perennial favorites of Stand Your Ground and Castle Doctrine bills. Both passed in the Iowa House in 2012, but died in the Iowa Senate. Next was Constitutional Carry (or what we used to call “Vermont Carry) “allowing all Iowa citizens with a legal right to possess firearms to carry them without a government tax and permission slip.”
Also mentioned were bills to:
- strengthen Iowa’s preemption law which forbids localities from placing onerous restrictions on firearms
- “better allow school teachers to carry, eligible faculty, staff, students and visitors at Iowa’s Regents universities to carry, and of course, allow Iowans to carry in public places such as the Iowa Fairgrounds.”
- “protect the individual’s right to keep a firearm in their vehicle regardless of where it is parked.”
- protect the personal information of weapons permit holders,
- streamline Iowa’s “goofy” permit to carry renewal process.
- allow bowhunters to carry their self-defensive arms when hunting.
That is certainly an ambitious agenda. We definitely need the RKBA amendment to the state constitution first and foremost. Beyond that, if IFC can even get a portion of their list accomplished it may be a banner year for Second Amendment supporters in Iowa.