Guest Columnist

Anti-Blum column is off base

Rep. Rod Blum speaks to city leaders during a luncheon to recognize the Iowa congressional delegation for their role in securing federal flood protection funding on Wednesday, August 8, 2018, at the DoubleTree Hotel convention center in Cedar Rapids on Wednesday, Aug. 8, 2018. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)
Rep. Rod Blum speaks to city leaders during a luncheon to recognize the Iowa congressional delegation for their role in securing federal flood protection funding on Wednesday, August 8, 2018, at the DoubleTree Hotel convention center in Cedar Rapids on Wednesday, Aug. 8, 2018. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)

It obviously is campaign season here in Iowa — endless calls, knocks on the door, and a mailbox full of reasons why the other candidate means the end of the world.

Part of us may not enjoy these side effects of a healthy democracy, but I know we all have pride being the first in the nation and a big player in the political sphere. Still, I am disappointed the lengths some will go to in order to play politics.

I saw a recent guest column (“No Rep. Blum, wife beaters and child abusers should not have guns,” Aug. 18) stating that U.S. Rep. Rod Blum, R-Iowa, wanted child abusers and criminals to have guns because of something called the Lautenberg Amendment that, if you’re like me, you probably didn’t even know existed. Anyone with a brain knows that assuming Rep. Blum wants to arm child abusers and criminals is ridiculous and has to see through the scare tactics being used here. There’s always more to the story, and it’s always worth taking the time to explore both sides.

First, the information cited in that article is from 2014, before Rep. Blum was even in office, and his actions in Congress prove that this evil assumption completely is off base.

The Lautenberg Amendment was enacted in 1996. At first glance, it is a non-controversial bill to ban those who have been convicted of domestic violence from owning a firearm. So why has this seemingly simple amendment made its way to the U.S. Supreme Court more than six times? Because it’s more complicated than it seems.

Many people believe that the definition of “domestic violence” in the bill is too broad — you could qualify under this definition for spanking your own child.

Others believe this bill violates the ex post facto and due process rights guaranteed to every U.S. citizen. Whether or not you have an opinion on this amendment, can’t we all agree these concerns should at the least be looked at, and that it gets us absolutely nowhere to send out hysterical letters assuming vile accusations against one another?

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If every conversation to improve gun safety for our kids is approached like this, it’s no wonder we can’t find a helpful solution to compromise on.

Obviously, the “gun-free zones” at schools are not working. How many mass shootings have happened at labeled “gun-free zones?” A sticker is not stopping someone from bringing a gun into a building. We need to do more for our children in regards to protecting them at school. I think we should ask ourselves if the federal government is the proper place for all of these decisions to occur.

Perhaps states should be allowed to determine the appropriate solutions for school safety. Each state, county and school district should work together to come up with the best solution to prevent school shootings and keep their children safe.

I am glad to see that Rep. Blum co-sponsored legislation to enhance protections for our kids in schools, to improve the background check system in use, and still supports our Second Amendment rights — all of these priorities are valid and should be applauded. We all want to protect our children, working together, we can solve this problem.

• Jerry Akers is a lifelong Linn County resident and business owner.

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