Guns

Contrived Iowa Shall-Issue Gun Controversy Distracts from Common Goals

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In the fight to protect our Second Amendment rights, it's unfortunate that quite often gun owners will stand against other gun owners and try to make the perfect the enemy of the good. Such is the case in the struggle to turn Iowa from what's called a "may-issue" state, where local authorities have unlimited discretion over who gets licenses to carry concealed firearms, into a "shall-issue" state where local authorities must issue a license to anyone who meets certain well-defined objective criteria, such as taking a training course, and passing a criminal background check. Many gun owners feel this does not go far enough, and advocate states merely repeal their laws that criminalize carrying of concealed weapons, such as is done in Vermont, Alaska, and hopefully soon Arizona.

But most careful observers of Iowa politics do not believe that there are the votes necessary to pass any kind of Alaska or Vermont style legislation through the Iowa legislature. Groups opposing the Iowa "shall-issue" bill, such as Iowa Gun Owners, are quick to point out that the bill almost passed with a tie vote. This is misleading. There has never been a vote on an actual bill for Vermont Carry. The tie vote was on a procedural move to force the bill to the floor of the Iowa House. It's not at all evidence that such a bill would have even close to majority support in an actual up or down vote on the merits of the bill.

There have been many accusations and half-truths being circulated by folks who, while of good intention, aren't necessarily acting in the best interests of the majority of gun owners in Iowa who very much want a shall-issue bill. For instance, here's what the group Iowa Carry had to say on their mailing list about the accusation of arm twisting in regards to Rep. Sorenson:

The “ultimatum” that was given to Rep. Sorenson was not an ultimatum.  Rep. Sorenson was interested in what the NRA legislation said, as he was willing to support this as a step forward. He is still interested in seeing the Alaska-carry legislation advance as well, just like Iowa Carry would be happy to see that advance for a true (not a procedural!) vote.  Right now, on the last day of the session, that’s not going to happen.  The only true vote that might happen (and that’s not even a sure thing – more on that later) is a vote on the NRA legislation.  So, Rep. Sorenson wanted to know where all of the amendment wording changes and negotiations had gone in the past 48 hours.  John Reed was explaining that information to him, and further explained how the NRA rating system works.  It’s not a secret that those who support NRA legislation get a favorable rating, and those that do not support it do not get a favorable rating.

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It should be noted that Representative Sorenson was a "yes" vote on the NRA-backed shall-issue bill. No doubt he realizes, as many gun owners do, that this bill is a great step forward, even if it's not perfect. Iowa has been waiting for a shall-issue bill for years, and is one of the last states to move into the shall-issue column. As gun owners, we can push Alaska and Vermont style carry in states where the political situation allows that to proceed, as is currently happening in Arizona, but we should not make the perfect the enemy of the good. We've shown time and time again we can go back and make bad laws good, and good laws better. We can do that in Iowa, just as we have done and are doing in Arizona, and other states.