If you had told Iowans a month ago that they were 30 days away from it being against the law to eat in a restaurant, go to their gym, go to a movie, or worship in their church, people would have assumed you were crazy!
And if you told people that it would be against the law to be in any group of ten or more people, they probably would have tried to have you committed!
But after Governor Reynolds issued her public health disaster emergency declaration earlier this week, that’s reality.
And that has people wondering exactly how far Governor Reynolds’ authority extends.
We have received almost one hundred requests on the limits of Governor Reynolds authority, specifically in regard to her ability to curtail our Second Amendment freedoms.
It’s a reasonable question to ask.
After all, municipalities in nearby Illinois are passing ordinances that suspend your right to buy or transport a firearm –- effectively outlawing concealed carry.
The Mayor of New Orleans, LaToya Cantrell, did the exact same thing earlier this week. More jurisdictions are considering doing the same thing.
(The city ordinance that just took effect in New Orleans, effectively banning the sale and transportation/carrying of firearms, part of a political response to the coronavirus.)
But in this instance, we have fantastic news to give you.
In a nutshell: there is no legal way that Governor Reynolds or any other government official at the state, county or municipal level can take any action that would curtail your right to own, carry, transport or use a firearm after an emergency declaration.
You see, in 2017, when Iowa Gun Owners members passed Stand-Your-Ground law, we accomplished much more than that.
Stand-Your-Ground was so hot in 2017, coming right after gun owners flipped the Senate after booting Mike Gronstal and others to the curb, everyone knew it was going to pass.
That’s why politicians began loading it up with additional pro-gun amendments; they wanted their language tied to our Stand-Your-Ground law concept.
One of those last minute add-ons was language that limited the emergency powers of the Governor during a disaster declaration.
Prior to this, the Governor of Iowa could (on paper) suspend your right to own or use firearms during a disaster declaration, like we all witnessed in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.
But not any longer.
Iowa code section 29C.25 says:
This chapter shall not be construed to authorize the governor or any other official of this state or any of its political subdivisions or any agent or person acting at the direction of the governor or any such official to do any of the following:
A. Prohibit, regulate, or curtail the otherwise lawful possession, carrying, transportation, or defensive use of firearms or ammunition.
B. Suspend or revoke, except in accordance with section 724.13, a permit issued pursuant to section 724.6, 724.7, or 724.15.
C. Seize or confiscate firearms and ammunition possessed in accordance with the laws of this state.
What’s more, should a government official in Iowa violate this section, the affected gun owner can sue that individual in civil court.
That’s because subsection 3 of 29C.25 says:
A. A person aggrieved by a violation of this section may seek relief in an action at law or in equity or in any other proper proceeding for actual damages, injunctive relief, or other appropriate redress against a person who commits or causes the commission of such violation.
B. In addition to any other remedy available at law or in equity, a person aggrieved by the seizure or confiscation of a firearm or ammunition in violation of this section may make application pursuant to section 809.3 for its return in the office of the clerk of court for the county in which the property was seized.
C. In an action or proceeding to enforce this section, the court shall award the prevailing plaintiff reasonable court costs and attorney fees.
To be clear, we have heard of no cases of any level of government in Iowa talking about trying to curtail our gun rights at this time.
But with new sensational actions being taken by the hour, we wanted to make sure that you had these facts.
If you hear of any violations of this code section, whether that be your town mayor, sheriff’s department, or any other governmental unit, please let us know immediately.
In the meantime, if you missed our alert about the coronavirus highlighting the absolute necessity for Iowa to pass Constitutional Carry law,read that here.