116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Iowa Republican legislators are asking us to troop to the polls Nov. 8 and vote “yes” on their “right to keep and bear arms” amendment. Forty-four other states already have fortified their constitutions that way, they say.
Not exactly. Iowa’s salute to the Second Amendment adds cryptic language that makes it dangerous. It wards off infringement by liberal judges. Only Louisiana, Alabama and Missouri have gone that far. So read up on Iowa’s amendment before voting.
What next? What will be the GOP’s follow-up to this nearly undeletable amendment and previously passed laws forsaking the sensible “Castle Doctrine” in favor of reckless “stand your ground” and “concealed carry?”
Republicans should do what their counterparts in nine other states have done: Get a gun.
No, not a real firearm — an official state gun. Consider the need. Heed the call to action. Here we are in the heart of the land of the free — birth state of Buffalo Bill and John Wayne, no less — and we lack a firearm to group with a bird, flower, tree and rock (American goldfinch, wild rose, oak and geode, respectively).
All it would take is a legislative resolution. No probable intrigue or opposition from that perennial stick in the mud, the “Democrat” Party.
Anointing a weapon symbolically as Iowa’s own would be safe. It wouldn’t hurt anyone.
Naming of state guns started just 11 years ago. Utah and Arizona legislatures raced for first place, with Utah winning (Browning M1911 pistol) and breathless Arizona (Colt single-action army revolver) coming in a month later. Next, in order, came Indiana (Grouseland Rifle), West Virginia (Hall Model 1819 flintlock rifle), Kentucky (Kentucky long rifle), Pennsylvania (Pennsylvania long rifle), Alaska (pre-1964 Winchester Model 70), Tennessee (Barrett M82) and Texas (Colt Walker handgun).
Those revered weapons are mainly antiques evoking legendary manufacturers or intrepid scouts (Davy Crockett, Daniel Boone). The aura suggests much about the winning of the west without going into the estimated 11 million Indigenous people our forebears won it from.
Weapons fanciers will spot a thunderous exception in that list: Tennessee’s idolized weapon, the Barrett M82, is a 30-pound semi-automatic sniper gun capable of killing an elephant from a mile away, if someone would want to do such a thing. Arnold Schwarzenegger in his heyday couldn’t have wielded such a monstrosity, even if aided by Sylvester Stallone. So it must be tripod-mounted. The Barrett M82 is manufactured for army use by Ronnie Barrett of tiny Christiana, Tenn.
By now you may have spotted a roadblock on the way to naming an official Iowa firearm. The state has a few gun manufacturers, but history shows no iconic weapons producer or beloved gun.
The NRA Blog offers suggestions for the 41 states deprived so far. Iowa? The NRA recommends the Winchester Model 1892. It was Iowa-born John Wayne’s favorite. He used it in several of his western movies.
I’d stick to real life and nominate the muzzleloading Springfield rifle with Minie ball used by many of the 70,000-plus Iowans who served in the Civil War. (13,000 died; the Union Army’s initial issue of inferior weaponry was a scandal.) Or if lifelong civilian John Wayne must remain in the spotlight, then perhaps the M1 Garand rifle toted by him in several World War II movies and, parenthetically, by tens of thousands of Iowans who fought in that war and Korea.
Another Iowa-linked possibility is the derringer, palm-sized pistol carried by Jock Mahoney, UI swimmer and diver who went on to star in movies and TV series, including “Yancey Derringer.” But being non-phallic, the derringer would be a long shot.
Best way to solve the problem is running a “Name Iowa’s State Gun” contest with a Garand prize for the winner.
A symbolic Iowa state gun not only would be non-lethal, there could be good money in it for cash-strapped Republican re-election seekers. As suggested above, the NRA smiles on state guns and those who enshrine them.
Writer-editor Jerry Elsea is retired after 40 years at The Gazette, the last 15 as opinion page editor.