Wednesday was an eventful day in Des Moines for pro-gun advocates that began with the House Democratic caucus’ mass exodus from the state capitol in protest of the scheduled consideration of two NRA priority pro-gun bills. Despite the fact the Republican majority had a quorum and could have passed legislation without the Democratic caucus, action was delayed until the caucus returned late in the afternoon. Once normal order was restored, gun owners in the Hawkeye State saw the Right to Keep and Bear Arms state constitutional amendment amended to the original NRA-supported language and passed. Gun owners then saw the passage of Stand Your Ground legislation. Both of these bills will now be sent to the state Senate for committee assignment and consideration.
House Joint Resolution 2009, sponsored by state Representative Matt Windschitl (R-56), fortifies Iowa gun rights through a strong constitutional amendment and was passed by a vote of 61 to 37. After HJR 2009 was weakened in committee, Representatives Matt Windschitl and Lance Horbach (R-40) offered an amendment to restore the original language, guaranteeing that:
“The right of individuals to acquire, keep, possess, transport, carry, transfer, and use arms for defense of life and liberty and for all other legitimate purposes is fundamental and shall not be denied or infringed. Mandatory licensing, registration, or special taxation as a condition of the exercise of this right is prohibited, and any other restriction shall be subject to strict scrutiny.”
After an impassioned closing speech by Representative Horbach, this bill passed because of the unified efforts of the House Republican caucus, with pro-gun state Representative Brian Quirk (D-15) being the only Democrat to support the bill.
House File 2215, also sponsored by Representative Windschitl, passed by a 60 to 38 vote and would remove a person’s “duty to retreat” from an attacker, allowing law-abiding citizens to stand their ground and protect themselves or their family anywhere they are lawfully present. It would create a presumption that an individual who unlawfully or forcefully enters your dwelling, place of business or employment, or occupied vehicle is there to cause serious bodily injury or death, so the occupant may use force, including deadly force, against that person. HF 2215 also would expressly enhance the protections against criminal prosecution and civil lawsuits when justifiable force is used. Once again, Representative Brian Quirk was the only Democrat to support this bill.
Thank you to all of the state Representatives who voted to expand the gun rights of all Iowans, especially Speaker of the House Kraig Paulsen and House Majority Leader Linda Upmeyer for their tireless efforts to bring these bills to the House floor. Also, thank you to all NRA members who contacted their state Representative over the past few weeks urging their support of these two bills.
The NRA would also like to thank the Iowa Firearms Coalition for all their strong efforts in support of these bills as well as the efforts of their membership.