116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Thanks to a bipartisan gun violence bill passed by Congress and signed by President Joe Biden, states are eligible for funding to assist them in enacting red flag laws. Red flag laws allow families, law enforcement and others to ask a court to temporarily remove firearms from the possession of people judged to be a risk to themselves and others.
Iowa has no such law allowing extreme protection orders. But Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds’ tepid response to questions about the possibility of such a law in Iowa is a signal that won’t change at the Republican-controlled Statehouse.
“No matter how many laws or rules you have on the books, if somebody has evil in their heart, you can't handle that,” Reynolds said. She pointed to a red flag law in Illinois that didn’t prevent a mass shooting at a Fourth of July parade in Highland Park.
Yes, evil cannot be legislated away. And laws don’t always work as intended. But that’s a weak excuse to not put protections in place to could head off shootings and suicides.
Linn County Attorney Nick Maybanks told The Gazette’s Tom Barton that a red flag law in Iowa could be an important tool in preventing gun violence. He pointed to a recent incident in Marion where a man struggling with a mental health crisis engaged in a shootout with police. His family and friends knew about his condition but had no option to remove his firearms. No one was injured in the shootout.
Of course, a red flag law should have clear due process safeguards and protections against the unwarranted seizure of weapons. We believe such a law could be configured to both protect Iowans and the constitutional right to bear arms. The federal legislation includes money for public awareness campaigns and for training law enforcement.
Reynolds said the state should seek “a balance” as it considers gun safety measures. But there’s been no balance in recent years as the Legislature has passed a series of laws dramatically loosening gun regulations. This fall, a constitutional amendment is on the ballot enshrining gun rights in the state constitution while requiring courts to use the highest level of judicial review to judge regulations.
So Iowa is a pro-gun state. It should, at least, provide families and law enforcement with tools to prevent those guns from taking lives.
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