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GOP state senator opposes 'red flag' gun law in Iowa

Washington Post photo
Washington Post photo

DES MOINES — A Republican state senator said Thursday he opposes any version of “red flag gun seizure” legislation at the state level.

“Passage of ‘Red Flag Gun Seizure’ legislation is the wrong approach as it allows for law-abiding Iowans to be stripped of their firearms and their Second Amendment freedoms before ever being convicted of an underlying crime,” Sen. Jake Chapman, R-Adel, said in a statement.

Chapman’s position puts him at odds with U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley, a Republican from New Hartford, who told a firearms-themed fundraiser in Denison on Monday that gun owners should back “red flag” laws and other measures to help prevent mass shootings such as the two that killed more than 30 people in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, last weekend.

“I’m calling on law-abiding gun owners to lead the charge in the effort to keep dangerous individuals from purchasing guns and to expand access to mental health resources,” Grassley told the audience at Rep. Steve Holt’s “Sweet Freedom Celebration & Gun Shoot” fundraiser.

Grassley noted that President Donald Trump earlier in the day had spoken in favor of “red flag” laws, which allow family members or others who observe warning signs, or red flags, to seek a court order to intervene and temporarily prevent a person from accessing a firearm.

“The idea of being innocent until proven guilty is revered in American jurisprudence. This legislation would declare a gun owner guilty, and force him or her to come back before a court and prove their innocence at a later time,” Chapman said.

According to Chapman, gun-rights advocates “hotly contest” the legislation being pushed by U.S. Sens. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., calling it “just another measure that will do virtually nothing” to stop criminals, while unjustly targeting gun owners.

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“The idea of a court issuing a seizure order and suspending someone’s Second Amendment rights before that person has ever been convicted of a crime is a dangerous precedent to set,” said Chapman.

Chapman said the legislation being proposed in Washington, D.C., is not a federal law, but proposes a funding mechanism as an incentive for state lawmakers to pass the bill.

He said Iowa has made major advancements in Second Amendment freedom over the last decade with the passage of Shall Issue and Stand-Your-Ground legislation, along with numerous other bills, casting doubt on whether the Iowa Legislature would pass a “red flag bill.”

“Gun control is often hyped as a miracle cure to violence. However, the reality is that gun laws such as ‘gun free zones’ do nothing to stop violence from occurring,” Chapman said.

“ ... We have to look much deeper,” he added.

Requests for comments from Gov. Kim Reynolds’ office and GOP leaders in the Iowa House and Iowa Senate did not net any responses initially Thursday.

Senate Majority Leader Jack Whitver, R-Ankeny, said his 32-member majority caucus has not met since the end of the 2019 session last May to discuss issues lawmakers may face next year.

Whitver said he is a strong supporter of the Second Amendment and due-process rights.

“Clearly, mass shootings are a concern for everyone across the country. As we have over the last three years, we will continue to look at ideas that are proven to prevent them,” he said. “We have passed legislation regarding adult mental health, children mental health, and school security over the past two years.”

Senate Minority Leader Janet Petersen, D-Des Moines, noted that in wake of the weekend shootings, support is growing “for common-sense efforts to address gun violence in our nation.”

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“Sen. Jake Chapman is so far out the mainstream that he won’t even join the national conversation about how to improve public safety in the United States,” Petersen said.

“I hope that other Iowa Republican legislators and the governor will listen to parents, educators and law enforcement, and work on a bipartisan solution to this problem.”

• Comments: (515) 243-7220; rod.boshart@thegazette.com

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