In 2014, the National Association for Gun Rights and Iowa Gun Owners sent Rod Blum their federal candidate survey asking for his positions on various gun-related issues.
The survey asked Blum if he would support repealing the “Lautenberg Domestic Misdemeanor Gun Ban.” The Lautenberg Amendment, named after U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg, a New Jersey Democrat, became law in 1996 and made it illegal for anyone convicted of domestic violence to purchase a gun. The Lautenberg Amendment also made it a crime to knowingly sell a firearm to anyone convicted of domestic violence.
Domestic abuse victims need such protections because, according to the American Journal of Public Health, these victims are five times as likely to end up dead if their abuser can access a gun. Sen. Lautenberg argued wife beaters and child abusers should not have guns. But Blum wanted to repeal the Lautenberg Amendment, in essence saying, wife beaters and child abusers should have guns.
The Iowa Gun Owners survey continued by asking then-candidate Blum if he would support repeal of federal “gun-free school zone” laws. The Gun-Free School Zone Act, passed in 1990, forbade unauthorized individuals from carrying a loaded or unsecured firearm inside or within 1,000 feet of a school. The Gun-Free School Act of 1994 required schools to expel students who brought a gun to school. Schools should be places for safe learning. Guns do not belong in schools. Blum says he opposes these gun-free school laws. Does Blum think guns should be allowed in schools?
On the same survey, Blum also vowed to oppose any expansion of background checks to purchase a firearm. Those who currently wish to purchase guns or ammo without undergoing a background check can do so through private gun sales or over the internet. Most gun owners and National Rifle Association members want universal background checks. They support universal background checks because, as law-abiding citizens, they do not want criminals and people with mental health issues to access guns. But Blum opposed universal background checks.
In April 2017, I attended a Cedar Rapids event where Congressman Blum spoke. Based on his gun survey answers, I typed up the following questions:
1. Congressman Blum, the National Instant Check System is used by the FBI to prevent criminals from purchasing firearms. Right now there are ways to purchase a firearm without undergoing a background check. For example, someone could purchase a firearm in person or arrange a purchase over the internet from a private gun dealer who does not have a Federal Firearms License without undergoing a background check. Would you support a bill which mandates Universal Background checks on all private sales of firearms and ammo including at gun shows, in person and over the internet?
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2. Congressman Blum, in 2014 you reported on the Iowa Gun Owners Federal Candidate’s Survey that you support the repeal of the Domestic Violence Offender Gun Ban (aka the Lautenberg Amendment). The Lautenberg Amendment bans access to firearms by people who have been convicted of crimes of domestic violence. Do you still support overturning the Lautenberg Amendment which would allow domestic abusers to purchase firearms?
3. Congressman Blum, in 2014 you supported repealing the “Gun-Free School Zone” laws. Such a repeal would allow people to bring firearms on to elementary, middle and high school properties without penalties. Do you still support allowing people to carry guns on school property?
After the event I told Congressman Blum I had some questions for him about guns. I gave these written questions to Congressman Blum with my contact information. He took the paper, shook my hand, looked me straight in the eye, and promised to respond with his answers.
Blum never contacted me about this or answered my questions.
If he believes domestic abusers should have access to guns, he should not represent us in Congress.
If he believes guns belong in schools, he needs a different job.
If Blum opposes universal background checks, he should retire his seat to someone serious about gun safety.
As a parent of young children, I do not want guns in schools.
As a concerned citizen, I do not want women and children who have suffered abuse to be shot by their abusers.
And, as a voter, I do not want a representative who tells me to my face he will answer these questions, and then breaks that promise.
• Caleb Gates is a resident of Cedar Rapids.