Sunday, November 14, 2010

Iowa Firearms Coalition Announces 2011 Legislative Agenda

The dust had barely settled from the 2010 election when the Iowa Firearms Coalition (formerly Iowa Carry) announced its 2011 legislative agenda, working in conjunction with the National Rifle Association.  The two groups successfully pushed through a "shall-issue" weapons permit law which was signed by Governor Culver in April of this year.  The ambitious 2011 agenda includes an amendment to the state constitution, as well as legislation strengthening Iowa's firearms preemption laws, protecting those who use a gun in self-defense from civil liabilities, and allowing Vermont/Alaska-style carry of firearms without a permit.

The "Iowa Right to Keep and Bear Arms Constitutional Amendment" was first announced by the group on Jan Mickelson's radio show in early October.  Iowa is one of only six states that has no provision in its constitution protecting the right to keep and bear arms.  Since Iowa voters rejected a constitutional convention on the November ballot, amending the state constitution will require that an identically worded amendment pass two successive legislatures, then be approved by Iowa voters.

The proposed wording for the amendment by IFC/NRA is: "The right of individuals to acquire, keep, possess, transport, and use arms to defend life and liberty and for all other legitimate purposes is fundamental and inviolable. Licensing, registration, special taxation, or any other measure that suppresses or discourages the free exercise of this right is forbidden."

Second, the "Iowa Firearm Preemption Act" would modify "the current preemption law to completely disallow a series of confusing, indiscernible 'Gun Free' zones intermittently spread across the state causing confusion," according to IFC's website.  State firearms preemption laws basically state that local governments may not pass gun restrictions more strict than the state.  This bill no doubt comes in response to recent efforts by local governments, such as Shelby and Hancock Counties and the cities of Ottumwa and West Burlington, to circumvent the state's current preemption law and ban permit-holders from carrying  concealed weapons on county or municipal property.

Next is the "Iowa Family Defense Act."  According to IFC: "Today, in Iowa, should you be forced to defend your life, you can be held liable for your act of defense in a civil court. Your act of self defense, or the defense of another, could be used against you. This piece of legislation would ensure your right to self defense without potential exposure to prosecution in a civil case from an attacker."

Lastly the "Iowa Constitutional Carry Bill" would apparently require "no permit for carrying or for the acquisition of firearms," thereby ensuring "that our right to keep and bear arms is not infringed at all, just as our forefathers intended."  This would appear to be similar to legislation sought by the group Iowa Gun Owners in the 2010 legislative session. 

This system is often called "Vermont Carry" and, in addition to that state, it is currently enjoyed in Alaska and most recently Arizona.  IFC President Sean McClanahan told me recently that permits would still be available to those who wanted them, such as for people who wanted to carry concealed weapons into other states that recognize Iowa's permits, but would not be required to carry in Iowa.

McClanahan says the group will be considering other legislation as well, but these four measures will be the prime focus.

[This story also posted at Iowa Freedom Report.]

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