Protect our gun rights

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The current legislative session in Des Moines has included some common-sense gun legislation that would shore up the Second Amendment in Iowa. SJR 2 highlights the agenda by allowing Iowans to catch up to the other 44 states that already have a constitutional right to keep and bear arms by cementing our basic right to firearms in the Iowa Constitution. This is significant because constitutional protection adds a barrier between judges and our fundamental right to self-defense and firearm ownership.

Another proposal would imitate the recently passed constitutional carry act passed in Missouri, which would remove the tax and permitting process from the government for Iowans who desire to protect themselves with a firearm. The permitting process would still be utilized by those who would want to continue receiving the appropriate training and carry firearms in other states, as well the current requirements for background checks on firearm purchases. The privacy of concealed-weapons-permit holders also would be protected by passing SF23 to prevent the misuse of gun owners’ personal data, like the mapping and listing of gun owners that we have seen before from various news outlets.

One of the highlights of last year’s accomplishments from the Capitol was removing the restriction on suppressors, which opened the door to Iowans owning NFA items. SF108 seeks to remove the restrictions on NFA items and make Iowa’s laws consistent with the federal government. This would mean that shorter length barrels on firearms or automatic weapons would become accessible with federal restrictions still applying. Shorter rifles are more desirable to many because they are easier to transport and considered more desirable to shoot. Automatic weapons are generally priced comparable to a new pickup truck and all of these items require extensive background checks that take over six months on average to complete as well as an expensive tax stamp. The federal restrictions and deep financial commitment would keep the amount of these firearms low, so it is unreasonable to expect people to be carrying machine guns with them.

None of the major firearms reforms passed in the last decade have sparked an increase in crime nor have they turned out to be the public-safety nightmare that is often depicted when these laws are debated. The recent gun violence drop that Cedar Rapids has recently enjoyed came during a time when local gun owners were receiving tax stamps for suppressors purchased after their legalization in 2016. While I don’t credit this decline to suppressors vice effective policing, it is important to note that it wasn’t gun control that reduced violence. “Shall issue” concealed-carry permits have not slowed down the trend of decreasing violent crime. Not one of these proposals is reaching into new territory or testing new boundaries of firearm access; instead, they are attempts to allow Iowa’s interpretation of the Second Amendment to catch up to a majority of the country. These proposals are commonly found throughout other states, and none of them have resulted in the Wild West imagery that firearm opponents consistently provide to suppress these efforts. I urge you to contact your state representatives and senators to choose common-sense gun reforms.

• Derek Drayer is a military veteran, firearm owner and member of the Iowa Firearms Coalition.

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