Unless you’ve been out of town for a week and missed our previous email updates and our social media platforms, you know that the fight for Constitutional Carry is officially OVER!
H.F. 756 was signed into law late Friday afternoon by Governor Reynolds, making Iowa the 19th Constitutional Carry state, once the bill takes effect on July 1st!
It’s almost impossible to overstate what a seismic advancement for freedom Constitutional Carry represents for law abiding Iowans! Never again can law abiding Iowans be prosecuted for carrying a firearm for self-defense.
Never again will you be forced to pay a fee to the State of Iowa and add your name to a government database, just to be able to exercise your God-given and Constitutionally guaranteed right to keep and bear arms!
And as you know, this bill was loaded up with other pro-gun provisions, as well, namely the elimination of the permit to purchase handguns here in Iowa.
Firearm sales at gun shows and gun stores will still require a NICS check (federal law requires this), but after July 1st, private party sales will also be lawful here in Iowa. This has been a long time goal for us, ever since we asked Rep. Dwayne Alons to file that bill in 2011.
The government has no business trying to stop the private sale of firearms between private parties. As many gun owners know, the idea of a purchase permit was first brought about by state governments that wanted to make sure that minorities couldn’t own guns. Here in Iowa, those days are gone!
It’s impossible to thank the members of Iowa Gun Owners enough for all of your support over the years, as we fought this battle together. A little recap of all that we’ve accomplished together is certainly in order after such a massive victory!
Rewriting the Playbook:
Lots of states have a ‘gun group’ consisting of a few old people who get together in the Capitol once a year to glad hand a few politicians, before going home again, utterly irrelevant.
When Iowa Gun Owners was launched in 2009 — to combat Iowa’s terribly abusive ‘May Issue’ laws –- we did so knowing that we were going to re-write the playbook for state level gun rights organizations.
That meant fighting to advance legislation, knowing that the politicians would kill our bills for years, and making sure we had the resources and the will to HAMMER on their records at election time!
You see, as IGO members know very well, the fight for our Second Amendment freedoms is not won or lost in the legislature, but at the ballot box every two years.
That’s why after we received a roll call vote on Constitutional Carry law in the House in 2009 (H.F. 596, a 49-49 tie) and the Senate (S.F. 2379, H-5371) in 2010, Iowa Gun Owners made it our mission to expose anti-guns at election time with a vengeance.
(IGO’s Aaron Dorr, second from right, with a team of IGO volunteers and 6 of the State Representatives who worked with us to obtain roll call votes on Constitutional Carry law in the 2009/2010 legislative session, which got the ball rolling.)
Fighting Back at Election Time:
In 2010, after a massive direct mail and email program from Iowa Gun Owners (no social media back then,) over two dozen State Representatives and State Senators were removed from office after gun owners learned of their votes against Constitutional Carry!
No one had ever seen such a massive punch from a state level gun rights organization, and it was this program that flipped the Iowa House into pro-gun hands for the first time in years.
(IGO’s Aaron Dorr (R) reviewing the Constitutional Carry amendment that Senator David Hartsuch (L) ran on the floor in late March of 2010 for IGO. Without this vote, gun owners wouldn’t know where their Senators stood on the Second Amendment headed into the 2010 elections.)
Once they had control of the Iowa House, Republicans promptly forgot their promises to gun owners, forcing Iowa Gun Owners to engage in a nasty civil war in the House that lasted for years.
This was another area where Iowa Gun Owners re-wrote the playbook. We refused to play nice with the Republicans, just because they were Republicans. So when the Republicans blocked Constitutional Carry law in the House, we went after them, too.
State Representative Tom Shaw (R-Laurens) was a ferocious champion for Constitutional Carry law during his time in the Iowa House, and forced the Republicans to vote on this legislation when they continued to block it.
These votes allowed IGO to expose Republican backstabbers who campaigned as being pro-gun, but clearly weren’t.
(Former State Representative Tom Shaw (L) and IGO’s Aaron Dorr (R) reviewing the procedural process to force the GOP-controlled House to vote on Constitutional Carry law, moments before it happened during the 2011 legislative session.)
But the primary obstacle to the passage of this bill was always the Senate Majority Leader, Mike Gronstal. Gronstal had long held an A rating from the NRA and had received their PAC money, even though he killed gun bills every single year.
It was this protection that he received from the NRA that allowed Gronstal to believe he was impervious to the pressure from gun owners.
Several years ago, while he was the Senate Majority Leader, I personally handed Senator Gronstal a stack of over 500 signed petitions from gun owners in his district, calling on him to pass Constitutional Carry law.
Gronstal arrogantly threw them on the floor of the Capitol Rotunda, convinced that a state level gun rights organization couldn’t hurt his political future, especially with the NRA backing him.
(Then Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal (L), throwing a stack of yellow flyers on the ground in the Iowa Capitol, after I handed them to him on behalf of IGO members in Council Bluffs.)
Gun Owners Got Revenge in 2016:
After having run progressively larger election programs every two years since 2010 which led to more and more gun-grabbers being removed from office, the members of Iowa Gun Owners gave us the resources to go ‘all in’ in 2016, running a massive program to expose a half-dozen anti-gun Senators!
We used massive amounts of direct mail.
We had teams of volunteers going door-to-door every Saturday for two months, passing out our voter score cards.
(A portion of the direct mail campaigns that IGO conducted during the 2016 election cycle, exposing Mike Gronstal and five other Senate Democrats who opposed our gun rights!)
We had so many volunteers helping us expose gun-grabbers across the state, the elements of the Iowa Senate GOP called me to see if they could ‘rent’ some of them to help their candidates door-knock, since they couldn’t motivate anyone on their own!
(Teams of IGO volunteers, sometimes numbering 60 per Saturday, worked hard to expose Mike Gronstal and his allies throughout the 2016 election cycle with door-to-door programs, passing out IGO voter scorecards.)
On election night, 2016, as America was celebrating Hillary Clinton’s defeat to President Donald Trump, Iowans had two reasons to celebrate as EVERY SINGLE ONE of the six anti-gun Senate Democrats (including the arrogant Mike Gronstal) we exposed were booted out of office!
This flipped the Iowa Senate and gave Iowans a GOP controlled legislature and Governor’s mansion for the first time since the late 1990’s — and cleared the path for gun bills.
Republican Controlled Legislature:
In 2017, Iowa Gun Owners paused the fight for Constitutional Carry to focus on finishing the fight for Stand-Your-Ground law, which we had been working on for several years.
But in 2018, the fight for Constitutional Carry law resumed with a vengeance, being led by one of the best tacticians IGO has worked with in the Iowa Senate, Senator Rick Bertrand.
(Senator Rick Bertrand (R) was a relentless champion for Stand-Your-Ground and Constitutional Carry law, forcing Michael Bloomberg to spend $250,000 to remove him in 2018.)
Senator Bertrand had been leading the fight for this legislation in the Senate for four years for Iowa Gun Owners, and we were steadily wracking up co-sponsors in the Senate.
Constitutional Carry easily passed through the sub-committee process that year (see my testimony here) but was killed in the full Judiciary Committee days later, by Republicans who refused to move the bill in the days following the Parkland, Fl school shooting.
(IGO’s Aaron Dorr, in the middle, testifying in support of Constitutional Carry law on behalf of IGO members.)
The 2020 and 2021 legislative sessions went much the same way.
IGO filed Constitutional Carry law, got an impressive array of cosponsors, passed the bill through the sub-committee, only to see the Senate kill the bill both years, convinced that backing this legislation would cost them their majority in 2020.
2020 Elections — Bloomberg’s Failure:
And Michael Bloomberg certainly tried.
Last summer, Bloomberg’s front groups made it clear that they were coming for the Iowa House with a multi-million dollar digital/direct mail ad buy, determined to flip the chamber.
Thanks to the members of Iowa Gun Owners, not only did Bloomberg fail to remove pro-gun legislators like Rep. Jeff Shipley and others, the House increased the size of their majority!
On the federal side, not only did Bloomberg fail to put his hand selected gun grabbers into the U.S. House or Senate, he LOST ground as IGO members in Eastern Iowa threw Abby Finkenauer to the curb for voting for a national gun registry and co-sponsoring a ban on semi-automatic firearms.
The 2021 Session:
After filing Constitutional Carry this session with the help of Rep. Jeff Shipley, Iowa Gun Owners members went to work, using our Gun Rights Action Center to send in almost 50,000 emails to their specific legislators, demanding action on this bill.
At the same time, Iowa Gun Owners was running digital and TV ads like this on KCCI and WHO-13, prompting a staggering number of phone calls to hit the Capitol switchboard.
After several weeks of non-stop bombardment from the members of Iowa Gun Owners, House and Senate leadership took our Constitutional Carry language, renumbered it, and scheduled it for sub-committee action!
IGO members did what you do best, pummeling the sub-committee’s public comment section with thousands of public comments in support of this legislation, nearly taking the state’s website offline and reminding the legislature how important Constitutional Carry is to gun owners here in Iowa!
Once the bill was filed by leadership, we knew that the bill would likely move fast, and it did, urged on by calls and emails from IGO members the entire time.
As you likely know, it took almost two weeks for Governor Reynolds to make a decision on the bill. While we’re all happy that she signed it, after a growing number of insiders reported to IGO their concerns that Reynolds might have been convinced to use the recent Boulder, Co shooting to veto the bill.
It wasn’t a vain concern. Just two years ago, Gov. Reynolds went on record opposing this bill and went on CBS News talking the need for a ‘wholistic approach to gun violence’ and left the door open for some form of mental health gun control!
Knowing all of this, Iowa Gun Owners immediately put this ad up on KCCI and WHO-13 as well as some other stations across the state, making sure that every gun owner in the state was calling Governor Reynolds and insisting that she sign the bill!
Late Friday afternoon, two hours before the end of the work week and on the beginning edge of Easter Sunday weekend, Governor Reynolds signed H.F. 756 into law — without a signing ceremony.
(The best headline that Iowans have ever seen in the Des Moines Register, a ‘newspaper’ who did all they could to block this legislation from becoming law!)
The lack of a signing ceremony, almost always held for major legislation like this, has many insiders convinced that Gov. Reynolds was going to veto this bill, but changed her mind at the last minute, quickly signing the bill and dumping the story into the weekend news cycle.
They Carried the Torch:
As you just read, the smashing victory that we had this session was over a decade in the making. And we would be remiss for not formally acknowledging the hard work of some fantastic legislators that carried the torch for freedom for so long.
In the House: Rep. Dwayne Alons, Rep. Tom Shaw, and Rep. Jeff Shipley led the fight for this bill for years. Shaw, in particular, did heavy lifting in 2011, forcing a vote on this bill over the objections on his own party.
In the Senate: Senator David Hartsuch, Senator Kent Sorenson, and Senator Rick Bertrand were relentless at pushing this bill forward and rallying grassroots and caucus support for the bill.
Simply put, we would never have passed this legislation today without the work of these men over the last decade.
Success Has a Thousand Fathers:
You may have heard the saying, ‘Success has a thousand fathers, but failure is an orphan.’ In the political arena, you might as well say that victory has ten thousand fathers.
Now that the fight is over, every legislator in Iowa and every national gun rights organization that you’ve ever heard of has memes and social media posts running online, claiming credit for all of their ‘hard work’ in passing this bill.
It’s ridiculous, but totally predictable.
No, the ONLY REASON that Iowa will soon be a Constitutional Carry state is because of the unrelenting members of Iowa Gun Owners who have been a stone wall for freedom in Iowa since 2009!
IGO members funded our election and lobby programs in 2010, which lead to the flip of the Governor’s mansion and the Iowa House, after two dozen gun-grabbers were thrown out of office!
IGO members did the same thing in our 2012 and 2014 election cycles, which saw Bloomberg’s lead bill sponsor, Senator Daryl Beall, kicked out of office!
IGO members dug extra deep in 2016, paying for over $150,000 worth of radio ads, TV ads, digital ads, ‘slicks,’ direct mail and more, leading to the State Senate flipping into Republican hands!
IGO members were the fire wall that Iowans needed in 2018 and 2020, allowing Iowa Gun Owners to spend a combined $100,000 on hard hitting advertising that safeguarded our legislative majorities AND led to Abby Finkenauer being thrown out of office!
No other organization did this. Heck, no other organization even tried. They NRA state affiliate is broke and couldn’t do ANY of this if they wanted to. Even if they weren’t broke, they wouldn’t dare upset the politicians in Des Moines!
National gun groups? Well, they’ve taken plenty of money out of Iowa, but were nowhere to be found at election time for years…just like they were nowhere to be found when President Trump needed them last November.
But it’s not just the money that you’ve given to this fight. It’s the attitude, it’s the resolve, it’s been your willingness to tell the politicians that ‘we’re not here to beg, you can do the job we’ve told you to do, or we’ll find someone who will!’
It was IGO members who sent TENS OF THOUSANDS of emails into the legislature ever single year, demanding action on this bill!
It was IGO members who joined me in testifying in sub-committee hearings on Constitutional Carry law over and over!
It was IGO members who joined us in door knocking on hundreds of thousands of doors in targeted districts at election time in 2010, 2012, 2014, 2016, 2018, and 2020 — making anti-gun politicians pay dearly for betraying the Second Amendment!
And it was IGO members who flooded Governor Reynolds with calls and emails insisting that she sign this bill into law!
AFTER you’ve done all of this work, after you flipped the legislature, after you hammered away at politicians in both parties, after you stopped Bloomberg, after you made it clear that we would never quit fighting for this bill, legislative leaders in Des Moines knew they had no other choice, and quickly passed the bill.
Thank you, so very much, for being a part of this incredible grassroots army that has never tired in the fight for freedom!
Some of you helped us with donations. Some of you helped us with your time. Some of you helped us with your calls and emails into the legislature. Some of you did ALL of this!
Whatever you did to help us make this a reality, I can’t possibly thank you enough. This is YOUR victory and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise!
The Next Step in the Fight for Freedom:
Well, that’s simple. Now that we have these laws on the books — and the dozen other gun bills that scared Democrats passed over the years, trying to buy political cover at election time — we need to defend them.
Joe Biden and the radical left have declared war on the Second Amendment and would love nothing more than to crush red states like Iowa with crippling gun control that would leave our gun rights in ashes.
The best way to shut him down is with the Second Amendment Preservation Act (H.F. 518) which would nullify Biden’s gun control laws by requiring Iowa’s peace officers to only enforce Iowa law where guns, ammo, and accessories are concerned.
The bill has been filed.
The moderates are opposed to it. The NRA state affiliate won’t support it. The media hates it. But…that’s never stopped us before!
Get ready for this fight.
More to come!
Iowa Gun Owners