Submitted by Liz O’Hara
Iowa’s Republican lawmakers are relentless in their drive to create a firearms free-for-all in our state. First, they ignored overwhelming public opposition and passed the gun lobby’s constitutional amendment, making “any and all” restrictions on the right to bear arms subject to “strict scrutiny” by the courts. They tried to assure skeptical gun violence prevention advocates that they did not expect this extreme measure to affect current gun restrictions in Iowa Code. Restrictions such as permit requirements and background checks to keep guns out of the hands of felons, domestic abusers and people with serious mental illness are firmly supported by the majority of Iowans.
What these lawmakers did not tell us was that they intended next to gut those restrictions themselves. HSB 254, currently before the House Public Safety Committee, would repeal Iowa’s background check law pertaining to the private purchase of handguns, and would repeal permit requirements for concealed handguns. The end result is the real possibility of people with dangerous histories carrying hidden, loaded handguns in our community spaces, without a permit or safety training.
Given that Republican legislators seem to favor a radical gun lobby agenda over what most Iowans actually want, we have to ask: where will this end? We can look to Missouri for the answer. When the state repealed its purchase permit law requiring background checks, there was a 17 to 27 percent increase in its firearm homicide rate, and a 16 percent increase in its firearm suicide rate.
Please contact your legislators immediately to defeat this bill — these lawmakers have allowed little time for debate on their pro-gun agenda. Let’s also defeat the strict scrutiny constitutional amendment next year when it goes to the voters for adoption.
Johnson County Gun Violence Prevention Advocates
Jodie Barry Theobald
Shannon Murphy Christensen