(This is part 3 of our 2013 “Year in Review” series. If you missed part 1 or 2, you can find it here and here.)
As the 2013 legislative session wore on, it was clear that many normally pro-gun legislators were cowed into silence this year.
Maybe it was the Des Moines Register’s seemingly daily diatribes against gun owners and calls for violence against pro-gun legislators in the wake of Newtown.
Perhaps it was the fact that the anti-gun lobby in Des Moines, the ISSDA, who is funded by your tax dollars, was working hard to silence them.
Shucks, maybe it was just the crumby weather that never seemed to end! Whatever the reason, many just caved in this year and decided to do nothing.
This is one reason why IGO and our members had to work so hard to stop the gun control bills that were being thrown at us.
But despite all the pressure, all the special interest lobbyists, and the media’s calls for violence against them – several pro-gun legislators rose above the rest this year.
Their passionate support of the 2nd Amendment, day in and day out, are part of what makes going to the Capitol bearable sometimes.
In the House, no conversation about guns would be possible without talking about Representatives Tom Shaw and Greg Heartsill.
In the last election cycle, no other candidates got more help and money from our sister organization, Iowa Gun Owners Political Action Committee, than these two.
IGO members and volunteers door knocked, lit dropped, phone banked and gave substantial financial support to these two – and we’re proud to say that it has paid off.
Long time IGO readers will recognize the name of Tom Shaw. Tom is a currently serving peace officer in his home town of Laurens, IA, having demoted himself from chief after winning election in 2010.
During his 20 years in the US Navy, Tom personally witnessed from the desk of his ship, the people of the Philippines throw off their violent dictator, Ferdinand Marcos after years of human rights abuses which started because the people were disarmed.
This left a lasting impression on Tom.
Today he’s one of the most courageous Representatives in the Iowa House.
In 2011, when his own colleagues refused to keep their campaign promises and pass Constitutional Carry, it was Tom Shaw who forced a vote on this bill so that Iowans would know who is pro-gun and who is not come election time.
This year, in the wake of Newtown, Tom was quick to agree to draft legislation that would remove the statues currently in place that make it a felony offense for parents, teachers, staff, etc. to carry firearms on school property.
As a police officer Tom knows firsthand that no matter how fast you drive, no matter how hard you try, when a school is under attack from a criminally insane psycho you can’t get there in time.
That’s why he brought forth House File 169 – to give Iowa school children a chance to survive by allowing their teachers to go to school armed should they choose to do so.
The media attacked at once, calling it extreme. One school administrator said it was an “undue burden” to expect teachers to fight back. (Funny, we though it was an undue burden to expect a teacher to get shot to death trying to cover her students with her body as happened in Newtown.)
His own party couldn’t kill the bill fast enough.
More on this bill later.
Standing side by side with Tom Shaw this year in the House was newcomer Greg Heartsill.
Greg is from Melcher-Dallas, near Knoxville, where he and his wife raise their 9 children. Greg is a self-employed fencing contractor who was getting weary of the direction his state was trending and decided to run for office just last year.
Greg was attacked throughout his campaign by his opponent for supporting ideas like “Stand-Your-Ground” and “Constitutional Carry” but eventually went on to win handily on election night.
When we asked Greg to cosponsor HF169 with Rep. Shaw he was quick to agree.
When we approached him about supporting HF170, the Firearms Freedom Act, the bill so many others were too nervous to support, Greg happily got on board.
While other legislators were calling our office to explain why they were nervous about pushing for gun rights this year, Greg was stalwart in his defense of the 2nd Amendment.
For Greg it was easy. In fact he told me that the one issue that brought more emails and phone calls to his desk at the Capitol than any other was the 2nd Amendment – and that virtually every one of them were in support!
While there are definitely more pro-gun members of the House, Tom Shaw and Greg Heartsill stand apart for their willingness to support gun rights – even when their own political party tells them not to.
For that they deserve our thanks.
Of course, no discussion of gun rights in Iowa would be complete without mentioning Senator Kent Sorenson.
This year alone, Kent has introduced the following bills for Iowa Gun Owners:
SF251, the “Safe Schools Act of 2013,” a companion bill to Tom Shaw’s HF169, which would give our children a fighting chance if they are attacked in schools.
SF252, Constitutional Carry Legislation – which would let Iowa join states like Arizona, Wyoming, Alaska, Vermont and Arkansas in allowing their law abiding citizens to carry firearms for self-defense without needing government permission.
SF254, the Firearms Freedom Act, which would declare every firearm and accessory made or owned here in Iowa to be outside of Federal purview. This would be helpful should the Obama administration decide to declare unilateral action against the 2nd Amendment.
SF255, Stand-Your-Ground legislation which would end the legal requirement that you and I must retreat in the face of an armed attacker. After meeting Jay Rodney Lewis last year in person, Kent was struck with the incredible injustice of the current code and has made this a major push ever since. (For more information on this just Google the name Jay Rodney Lewis.)
Unfortunately the Senate is under the complete control of anti-gunners, and therefore every single one of these bills died.
But Sorenson is continuing to push these issues and as more of these anti-gun Senators lose their elections because of their hostility to the 2nd Amendment, we’ll see more progress here.
This year Arkansas passed a Constitutional Carry bill.
Arizona’s governor just signed into law a bill that forces cities to resell the guns they obtain through buy-back programs, effectively ending those silly programs.
Kansas just passed a Firearms Freedom Act, thereby protecting their citizens from the overreach of the Federal Government, as it pertains to the 2nd Amendment.
We could go on. The point is that many other states took decisive action this year, despite the pressure from the national media.
Here in Iowa, the anti-gun Senate Democrats blocked every single gun bill that was put before them.
They wouldn’t even let the bills move into committee for a vote.
The people of Iowa never got a chance to even see these bills debated!
Of course, the Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal has enjoyed money from the NRA for years and has been ranked A+ for virtually his entire time in elected office. (Kind of makes you wonder why he is enjoying that money, doesn’t it?)
Yet he killed these bills.
So this year, Senate Democrats under the control of Mike Gronstal are the “bad.”
This is what being “No Compromise” means. Calling a spade a spade.
It would be easy for us to end this report by simply calling out the Senate Democrats for doing nothing.
But that’s not the whole story, and there are plenty of partisan groups out there who will do that for us.
As we reported, many other states passed pro-gun legislation this year, despite the pressure.
Yet the House, controlled by the GOP, did mostly the same as the Democrats did in the Senate.
This year most of the gun bills wound up in the Judiciary Committee under the control of Chairman Chip Baltimore and Vice Chair Megan Hess.
Baltimore and Hess killed the same gun bills that the Senate Democrats did, folks.
But it’s worse, since they are supposed to be pro-gun.
Shucks, Hess signed our survey and promised, in writing, to move pro-gun bills like the ones that we set before her! Yet when we asked her, she wouldn’t even cosponsor Rep. Shaw’s bills.
There is nothing that we despise more at IGO than a two-faced politician.
And that’s what many of the leadership in the House GOP have been exercising for some time – they condemn Senate Democrats for their inaction and then take none themselves.
Over the last couple of years the House Republicans, under the leadership of Speaker Kraig Paulsen and Majority Leader Linda Upmeyer, broke campaign pledges and their platform on Constitutional Carry, Pre-Emption Reform, the Firearms Freedom Act and more.
For that they are truly the “ugly.”
What’s amazing is that the GOP in the House had a super majority of 60 seats in 2011 and 2012. Shenanigans like this have lead to gun owners walking away from their candidates, and so after the 2012 elections the GOP’s lead was cut to a narrow 53.
Don’t be fooled for a moment about this year’s “Confidentiality bill” that passed out of the House. It was a ploy to protect the ISSDA and they admitted that publicly.
It didn’t become law and, in the process, many anti-gun legislators in the House got to vote for this non-controversial bill and can now use that vote as political cover in the next election cycle.
The good news is that more and more 100% solidly pro-gun legislators are getting elected thanks to IGO PAC and the volunteers of Iowa Gun Owners who are funding, door knocking and phone banking for 100% No Compromise candidates.
Also, due to our efforts at educating 2nd Amendment voters at primary election time, these frauds are being found out.
House Majority Leader Erik Helland was no great friend to gun owners while in office. But he was primaried in 2012 and taken out of office by political newcomer Jake Highfill, with some help from IGO PAC and an educated electorate.
Helland won’t be the last establishment, moderate anti-gun Republican to lose his seat to a fierce, pro-gun primary challenger.
As IGO continues to take the lead on gun rights in Iowa, more and more folks are joining us. More and more we are able to assist in electing No Compromise legislators. This will continue with your support and activism.
For the final chapter in our year in review, please stay tuned.
P.S. The final chapter in our “2013 Year in Review” will be coming out shortly, but if you want to join us in defending the 2nd Amendment in Iowa then join up by clicking below.