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Should a bill limiting gun-restrictions be passed into law?

BY DI EDITORIAL STAFF | FEBRUARY 17, 2012 6:30 AM

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No

The Iowa House of Representatives has shown its complete lack of respect for local governance and a total disregard for public safety for even entertaining a pair of bills introduced by Rep. Matt Windschitl, R-Missouri Valley.

Of the two, the one most worthy of attention is House File 2114. If passed, HF 2114 would grant state-level authorities the sole power to tailor all of Iowa's gun laws — stripping cities and localities of the power to self-govern. If passed, local gun regulations would be abolished, and gun carriers would be free to roam courthouses, city halls, public parks, and even the Iowa State Fairgrounds.

Obviously, this raises rather serious safety issues, but maybe the risk posed by gun carriers walking around at events that serve alcohol — such as the Iowa State Fair — and in tight and often emotionally tense places — such as courthouses — is worth living with, if it means removing any possibility that gun rights might be infringed.

Totally ignore that gun accidents caused 5,763 deaths between 2000 and 2007 and 18,610 injuries in 2009 alone in the United States. We have gun-permit laws to control for these things, right?

I wish I could say that I had faith in Iowa's permit laws to minimize accidental gun fatalities and injuries. However, thanks to two massive loopholes, I do not. The first of these loopholes concerns who can carry a concealed weapon.

Even though it is illegal in Iowa to give a conceal-and-carry permit to felons and the mentally ill, Iowa honors the conceal-and-carry permits from all but two other states. For example, this means that a person who obtains a conceal-and-carry permit in Minnesota — where felons automatically have their gun rights reinstated upon serving out their sentences — could carry a concealed gun in Iowa legally.

The second is the "gun-show loophole" that exists in other states. Because many vendors at gun shows are not licensed to sell firearms, they are not necessarily required to adhere to the same permit and background-check requirements that licensed firearms vendors are. This means that people could buy a gun from one of these private vendors regardless of their criminal records or mental well-being.

Together, these loopholes allow untrustworthy individuals to legally carry concealed guns in Iowa, in spite of Iowa's own gun laws. And if HF 2114 is passed into law, these same individuals could then legally carry those guns in city parks, public buildings, the State Fair, etc.

Until Iowa lawmakers address the aforementioned loopholes, expanding the range of venues in which concealed weapons can be carried is far too risky a proposition. The costs of mishandling this are real and the benefits a fabrication. HF 2114 must not be allowed to pass.

— Daniel Taibleson

Yes

A proposed amendment to the Iowa Constitution in the state Legislature to guarantee citizens their Second Amendment rights ought to have full support from those who believe in our Constitutional republic. This is necessary if we wish to protect our citizenry when law enforcement cannot.

The main provision of the amendment states, "The right of an individual to acquire, keep, possess, transport, carry, transfer, and use arms to defend life and liberty and for all other legitimate purposes is fundamental and shall not be infringed upon or denied." It would also prohibit mandatory licensing, registration, and special taxation of firearms by municipalities, thus nullifying many Iowa City regulations.

Many opponents of gun rights are surely conjuring false visions of yokels packing heat at public events and flaunting their firearms boastfully. The truth is that many people on the streets are already carrying firearms, but you would never know it. There's a good reason for this safety measure.

The statistics prove that more firearms in the hands of responsible citizens result in a reduction of crime — the purpose of gun rights.

An expansive study of crime and states that reduced their gun restrictions by John Lott of the University of Chicago Law School between 1977 — a few years before some states changed their regulatory language — and 1992 found some staggering evidence. Murders decreased by 8.5 percent, rapes by 5 percent, aggravated assaults by 7 percent, and robbery by 3 percent.

More recently, Washington, D.C., has seen a dramatic drop in its violent-crime rates after a repeal of a gun ban by the Supreme Court and an increase in weapon sales.

Lott writes, "After the Supreme Court threw out D.C.'s ban and gunlock laws in 2008, the District's murder rates plunged by 25 percent in 2009." This occurred after hundreds of thousands of weapons were purchased across the country during this period.

Iowa's current gun laws, though less strict than other states, still restrict citizens from exercising their Second Amendment right. This is the basis for the proposed amendment. There are four "unrestricted" states — Alaska, Arizona, Vermont, and Wyoming — that have Constitutional amendments more or less identical to Iowa's proposed amendment. And their crime rates have dropped since adopting their unrestricted policy.

We must join these states in becoming an "unrestricted" state. Our Constitutional right to bear arms will be upheld, we can protect ourselves when law enforcement is unable, and our governments will save taxpayer dollars.

— Joe Schueller


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