By Jeff Knox
Years ago, I had a science teacher who provided a great analogy. In order to demonstrate how important the purity of research was, he brought in a saltshaker. He assured us it contained salt, but everyone in the class could see it was polluted with dark flecks. He eventually acknowledged that the black flecks were dried dog poo. The question was how much poo was an acceptable amount to use on our food. The unanimous answer was none!
NRA, in tacit complicity with the Iowa Democrat leadership, has offered GunVoters polluted salt. Their Concealed Carry Reform proposal offers mostly salt – most of the things GunVoters have been seeking for years – yet adds a substantial dose of dog poo.
Specifically, the proposal contains language making it a crime to be “under the influence” (no legal definition) of drugs or alcohol (or in illegal possession of a controlled substance) while in a vehicle. Not in a moving vehicle, not while driving, not while committing a crime, but simply while being in a vehicle. The NRA has offered up, on a silver platter, an entirely new victimless gun crime – the type of unreasonable, unconstitutional law we’ve been fighting for years. This one not a concession or compromise forced by our opponents, but volunteered by the NRA! What is the rationale for inventing a new gun crime where none currently exists?
The NRA proposal also ups the age limit for applying for a carry permit from 18 to 21 years of age. Again, there have been no reports of irresponsible college students with carry permits running amok in
Another seriously sour note in the latest NRA proposal is the inclusion of a section for bringing the state in line with the federal NICS Improvement Act, a bureaucratic black hole which will cost taxpayers $Billions and could jeopardize the rights of veterans. There is no evidence for, nor hope of this bill reducing crime. Debate over the federal NICS Improvement Act is likely to go on for decades, but what matters here is that there is no reason to include this in a bill that is supposed to reform
Shifting from the bill itself to the political situation in
On the other side of the issue are the Sheriffs and Deputies Association and a group of Iowa Prosecutors. The law enforcement groups have expressed a willingness to endorse carry reform, but they want to keep the local discretionary, and discriminatory, power inherent in current
Then there are the politicians. Iowa Republicans were in power for a long time, yet did nothing to improve the state’s terrible gun laws, and during those years had no real pressure from NRA to do so. Now in the minority, Iowa Republicans have “seen the light” and are gung-ho in favor of anything that will gain them GunVoter support. They are even more gung-ho about anything that will make GunVoters mad at the Democrats. Meanwhile, Democrats are feeling the heat from widespread dissatisfaction with the Democrat-controlled Congress and White House, and the dismal economy. They fear anti-Democrat backlash could send their majority into retirement this November. Democrats elected on a pro-gun platform are rightly wary of casting an anti-rights vote – if one should come to the floor. Of course, as in the US Congress, the job of party leaders is to keep those bills off the floor and avoid hard votes. Even with a strong contingent of pro-gun members, the Democrat caucus remains predominantly anti-rights, and they use any means available to keep rights legislation bottled up – protecting and/or silencing their own members, while pointing the finger of blame elsewhere when bills fail to come to the floor for a vote. They have complete control, and without some serious pressure, can block any uncomfortable vote.
Part of the Republican strategy was to push the Iowa Gun Owners’ Alaska-style carry bill, forcing the Democrats into a hard up or down vote before November. Many observers believe that if the IGO bill ever actually came to the floor, it would have full support of the Republicans and enough Democrats to put it over the top.
Democrat leaders realize the pressure is on and they are going to have a tough time shutting down all pro-rights bills this year without incurring significant damage from GunVoters in November. Desperate to find an out, they needed some political cover.
Enter the NRA.
With a fired-up electorate of GunVoters, realizing that IGO would not support watered-down concealed carry reform, and that, while more amenable to making a deal, Iowa Carry doesn’t have the clout to subdue IGO, the Democrat leaders went straight to Washington. Crafting a back-room deal with NRA, who has the clout to step right over IGO and to coerce Iowa Carry into cooperating, is a win-win, providing cover for wishy-washy politicians, while NRA can claim an easy victory, rather than working for the best possible bill for
The Democrats laid out their strategy carefully, declaring that in this short, legislative session and troubled economy, they would only entertain budget related bills… Except that they were willing to let an NRA-sponsored carry bill slide through if it could be agreed upon in advance and quietly rammed through without amendments, debate, and delays.
NRA’s lowball offer, which barely met the minimum requirements of Iowa Carry, included unpalatable anti-rights provisions. It met with immediate, strong resistance, and was quickly revised. But the serious flaws in the revisions drew even more highly publicized criticism from activists and organizations, including The Firearms Coalition and GunVoter.com.
The third incarnation, which NRA says will be their final revision, still contains much that is unacceptable. Since IGO will still push their Alaska-style, Constitutional Carry bill and since Republicans want to force the Democrats to hurt themselves with GunVoters, it seems highly unlikely that any gun bill is going to get through the legislature without debate and amendments. Under the current arrangement, it seems likely that Democrats will allow a procedural vote on the NRA bill and then, when the Republicans try to make needed improvements or substitute the Alaska-style bill, the Democrat leadership will simply table the bill, preventing discussion or votes, and declare that, while they really wanted to pass carry reform, the unreasonable Republicans and “extremists” like IGO were insisting on wasting the Assembly’s time with debate and amendments, but the critical budget matters cant wait so carry reform will have to be put off. Such a move would still provide the needed cover for their “lip-service” members from pro-gun districts. The resulting finger-pointing, accusations, and counter-accusations would muddy the waters enough to dramatically blunt the impact of GunVoters come November.
The NRA effort in
Like they say, two heads are better than one – and ten are better than two. Every rights group and activist must use every resource at their disposal to be as effective as possible – and that includes sharing and utilizing the knowledge, access, and expertise of other organizations – local and national. When your organization is making strategic plans, be sure other groups are included in the discussion, and please don’t hesitate to tap the resources of The Firearms Coalition to help in the planning and execution. That’s what we’re here for.
Jeff Knox is the Director of The Firearms Coalition at www.FirearmsCoalition.org and founder of www.GunVoter.org. He is the son of gun rights legend Neal Knox and has been an active participant in the fight for individual liberty for most of his 50 years.
Permission to reprint or post this article in its entirety is hereby granted provided this credit is included. Text is available at www.FirearmsCoalition.org. To receive The Firearms Coalition’s bi-monthly newsletter, The Knox Hard Corps Report, write to
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