2011 Year in Review
Implementation of "Shall-Issue" Concealed Carry
On January 1, 2011, Iowa's landmark "shall-issue" concealed carry law took effect. Tens of thousands of Iowans have now benefitted from the new law and many more Iowans are continuing to do so daily. IFC continues to work with its members, the NRA, the state Department of Public Safety, and law enforcement officials across Iowa on the implementation of the new law.
Also, on behalf of Iowa carry permit holders, and at the request of IFC, the NRA sent letters to all applicable states updating them on the new "shall-issue" law and requesting they recognize Iowa's permits. As a result, Iowa's permit is recognized by twenty six states compared to fourteen states at the end of 2010.
NIAA – Gun Rights Restoration
Signed into law by Governor Terry Branstad on April 19, this new law improves the language under last session's "shall-issue" carry reform law and updates Iowa state law to meet the requirements set forth in the federal NICS Improvement Amendments Act (NIAA).
Individuals who have been placed under certain types of mental health-related orders are prohibited by federal law from possessing firearms. The NIAA establishes clear standards for states to use in crafting laws to provide persons subject to these prohibitions a means of relief. The new law, under the guidelines established by the NIAA, will now allow a court to grant relief from the federal prohibition upon a finding that the petitioner will not be likely to act in a manner dangerous to public safety and that the granting of the relief would not be contrary to the public interest.
Additionally, for the first time in Iowa history the new law provides Iowans - including military service members and veterans - the ability to have their gun rights restored. Also of note, this legislation was unanimously passed in both the state House and Senate.
To date, 8 Iowans have applied for their rights to be restored and 6 have been restored. The remaining 2 were not denied, but rather had errors in their filing and needed to be resubmitted.
Mourning Dove Hunting
Iowa became the 40th state to allow dove hunting. This IFC/NRA-supported legislation was sponsored by state Senator Dick Dearden (D-34) and state Representative Rich Arnold (R-72) and signed by Governor Terry Branstad on March 23.
Traditional Ammunition Ban – Stopped
With help of Governor Branstad and legislative leaders, IFC and the NRA was able to stop the Iowa Natural Resources Commission's proposed traditional ammunition ban on numerous state and federal wildlife areas across Iowa.
According to the Commission, its purpose in proposing this ban was to "begin limiting the use of lead for all hunting and fishing on all public areas." The proposed ban would have also designated three wildlife areas as completely "lead free," including rifle ammunition and fishing tackle. The proposed ban did not mention any research showing that the use of traditional ammunition is having a negative impact on the state's wildlife populations.
Inadvertent Statewide Gun Ban -- Stopped
IFC and the NRA worked with state Representatives Nick Wagner (R-36) and Mark Brandenburg (R-100) to offer an amendment to prevent an inadvertent statewide gun ban created by a public utility bill. As introduced, House File 299 (formerly House Study Bill 51) would have created "trespass" penalties for a lawfully "armed" Iowan who crosses an undefined public "utility right-of-way." As an example, without the amendment, an individual with powers lines running under his or her own yard would be committing a "trespass" simply by walking across his or her yard with a firearm.
"Shall-Issue" Rollback -- Stopped
Senate File 457 (formerly Senate Study Bill 1056), introduced by state Senator Gene Fraise (D-46), was the first attempt at rolling back the new "shall-issue" law. This bill included a number of gun control measures, including requiring all firearms to be unloaded and cased while travelling, tied the acquisition of a permit to carry to "implied consent" for alcohol and blood testing, created mandatory shooting requirements, expressly prohibited internet training and created a new criminal trespass statute regarding carrying into prohibited places.
State and Municipal Building Gun Ban -- Stopped
Senate File 128, introduced by state Senator Joe Bolkom (D-39), attempted to ban all firearms in state or municipal buildings statewide. This attempt was to appease the cities and counties that are already enacting their own gun bans that are in direct violation of Iowa's firearm preemption statute.
Legislative Work to Do
Violations of the current firearm preemption statute are one of the hottest issues for gun owners in Iowa. In response to enactment of the "shall-issue" carry law and a flawed Iowa Attorney General's opinion, cities and counties across the state have brazenly passed resolutions and ordinances that not only violate the state firearm preemption law, but also infringe upon a constitutional right by banning the carrying of a firearm in almost all public areas in a city or town.
IFC and the NRA have approached this issue in three ways:
- First, the NRA has acquired local legal counsel and has been building a case for a lawsuit.
- And secondly, the NRA introduced legislation to improve on the current firearm preemption statute.
- Finally, IFC County Coordinators and activists utilizing our Preemption Package defended the rights of Iowans in dozens of Iowa cities, counties and municipalities.
Unfortunately, despite overwhelming grassroots efforts, much needed support in the legislature was lacking for addressing this timely and important issue. Finding a judicial or legislative remedy for firearm preemption violations remains a top priority.
Emergency Powers and "Stand Your Ground"
Again, despite overwhelming grassroots support and, in this case, broad legislative support, the Iowa House did not bring either House Bill 320 or House Bill 573 off the floor calendar for a vote.
This legislation is neither new nor unique; 29 states have provisions protecting firearm rights during states of emergency and 28 states expressly allow you to "Stand Your Ground" during a violent attack.
NIAA Bill and "Permitless Carry"
The NIAA legislation was a "must-pass" bill that created a gun rights restoration process while improving the reporting of federally disqualified individuals - due to mental health or substance abuse orders - to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). This important legislation ultimately passed both chambers unanimously. Unfortunately, one organization thought it wise to play politics with the NIAA bill. Because broad bipartisan commitments had been made not to amend this important bill, no other amendments were considered.
While the IFC was working with state legislators and the NRA to perfect a suitable alternative and ultimately forward progress on permitless carry, one supposed "gun-rights" organization decided to take the NRA's unreleased permitless carry language and attempt to force a House floor vote during debate on the NIAA bill.
A major reason for the failure of the permitless carry amendment—on a procedural vote—was the underlying legislation was deemed of immediate importance and adding the permitless carry amendment would have effectively "killed" the legislation. Despite the state House's near unanimous vote against the permitless carry amendment, it in no way depicts the lack of support for gun issues or the permitless carry issue. In fact, many strongly pro-gun legislators, including state Representative Matt Windschitl (R-56), voted against the amendment to preserve the underlying bill. Nobody would doubt his support for firearm rights, as this session alone, he sponsored a number of pro-gun bills including IFC/NRA's HF 573, "Stand Your Ground."
We believe that the fundamental right to keep and bear arms should be protected and restored. Twenty-five years ago, fewer than ten states made it possible for average, honest citizens to carry firearms for self-defense. Today, as a result of the NRA's efforts, more than forty states respect that right – including Iowa.
IFC supports the NRA on permitless carry legislation and they have successfully helped enact such statutes in Alaska, Arizona and Wyoming, and sought this year to pass similar laws in Colorado, Montana, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and even the Hawkeye state.
National News and Local Events
2nd Annual IFC/NRA Second Amendment Rally
This past years rally saw over 1,000 attendees at Brownell's Big Springs Shooting Complex outside Searsboro, Iowa. Former Iowa Carry / IFC President Sean McClanahan passed the torch to the new President, Jeff Burkett. Political speakers included:
Presidential Candidate Tim Pawlenty
US Representative Steve King
State Senator Mark Chelgren
State Senator Bill Dix
Speaker of the House Kraig Paulsen
State Representative Clel Baudler
State Representative Dave Deyoe
State Representative Chris Hagenow
State Representative Brian Quirk
State Representative Guy Vander Linden
State Representative Ralph Watts
Jacob Chapman, running for Iowa Senate in District 10
Dean Fisher, running for Iowa House in District 72
IFC provided a fantastic venue, with special thanks to Brownell's and the NRA, where membership could come out and talk to gun manufacturers, experience various firearms and meet face to face with legislators to discuss issues in a unique grassroots setting.
Iowa Straw Poll
IFC was present alongside NRA at the Iowa Straw Poll in Ames working diligently to spread the word about what we're doing here in Iowa.
Media Firearms Awareness Day
IFC, Learn 2 Shoot Iowa, Controlled Chaos Arms and Hawkeye Firearms Instruction hosted a media awareness day open to any members of the media that were interested in learning more about firearms and firearms issues in general. Media members, many of which had never fired a firearm before, were able to obtain their Iowa PCW training, shoot pistols, semi-automatic rifles and fully automatic weapons, with and without suppressors.
Tea Party of America's Restoring America Event
IFC was also present alongside NRA at the Restoring America Event near Indianola where we spread word to thousands of Iowa Tea Party supporters about the work we're doing here in Iowa on advancing firearms rights.
H.R. 822 Support
IFC supported NRA-backed legislation that would have expanded self-defense rights for firearms owners. This legislation would allow Right-to-Carry permit holders across the country to carry concealed firearms while traveling outside their home states. The act passed the United States House of Representatives by a bipartisan majority vote of 272 to 154. All amendments aimed to weaken or damage the bill were defeated. The bill now awaits action in the United States Senate and would require action by Senator Harry Reid to move it.
Wisconsin Passes "Shall Issue"
In 2011 we saw our neighboring state Wisconsin pass "Shall Issue" legislation that made it the 49th state to allow citizens to legally carry concealed firearms. Wisconsin is now a state that honors the Iowa Permit to Carry Weapons.
Fast and Furious
Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley recently remembered the one year anniversary of the shooting of U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry, who later died from his wound. Agent Terry was shot with guns that were part of an illegal gunwalking program initiated by the federal government. Senator Grassley had been investigating this operation, called Fast and Furious, for over a year when the tragic and unnecessary attack occurred, prompting whistleblowers to step forward with information. His goals are to obtain answers for the Terry family, find the highest ranking member in the federal government who authorized the program and hold that person accountable, and to ensure that no program like this ever happens again.
Iowa Permit Number Soar
The passage of Shall Issue law in 2010, which went into effect in 2011, ushered in over a 170% increase in permit holders. Iowa Department of Public Safety as of November 31st, 2011 indicates a total of 94,526 permits issued to Iowans. Polk, Linn and Scott counties, three of the most populous counties, showed an issuance increase of over 270%. Scott County saw the largest increase of 570%. All of these statistics should show a significant additional increase when the permit records for December become available.
More States Recognizing Iowa's Permit to Carry
In 2011, eleven more states began to recognize Iowa's Permit to Carry Weapons. Recognition by some states was automatic upon Iowa's new law taking effect on January1, by virtue of the fact that Iowa now honors permits issued by all other states. In many other states, however, recognition required some positive action by state officials to recognize Iowa's permit. Special thanks to the NRA for helping IFC in this process. It looks possible that more states will open up in 2012 as we continue to work through this process.
Session Delay on Traditional Ammunition Ban for Mourning Dove Season
When the Natural Resources Committee attempted to impose a ban on traditional ammunition during the new mourning dove hunting season – in direct contravention of the legislature's clear intent - IFC and the NRA were the only two firearms rights organizations present at the Capitol fighting against it. Thanks to our hard work at the Capitol and a tremendous response from IFC and NRA membership to legislators and the Governor, we earned a temporary delay on the ban for the 2011 season. However, we must now convince the Iowa General Assembly to act quickly and decisively to defend traditional ammunition. If they fail to do so in the upcoming legislative session, the ban will automatically go into effect for the 2012 and subsequent seasons. It is critically important that we finish this fight now, as the Natural Resources Committee and Department of Natural Resources plainly plan to implement such a ban across the board for Iowa hunting seasons.