SF456 - Gun Rights Restoration

In 2011, IFC and NRA worked hard to craft the NIAA bill, or NICS Improvement Amendments Act. The bill number was SF456. This was a carefully crafted piece of legislation designed to restore gun rights to folks who had lost them for mental health reasons but had gotten better, chief among whom are veterans with PTSD issues.

You'll note the bill number was SF456 short for Senate File 456 - the bill originated in the senate. At the time, the GOP had taken over the house in Iowa just after the 2010 midterms, but the senate remained under Democratic control. That situation remains the same today. So it's vitally important that any bill be able to get past the senate. SF456 passed the senate 50-0 thanks to the hard work of IFC and NRA educating everyone about why the bill was a no-brainer.

When it came time to vote on the bill in the House, along comes IGO and Aaron Dorr using the *one* representative that would talk to them -- Representative Tom Shaw. Representative Shaw attempted to add on an amendment that would institute constitutional carry in Iowa. Lets stop and analyze a few things at this point:

  1. Remember the Senate is controlled by Democrats
  2. This is a bill designed to restore basic 2A rights to Vetrans (and others)

This bill has nothing to do with constitutional carry and any amendments to the bill would have to be approved by the senate (and we know there was no way the senate would approve CC). The senate had already passed the bill, and if it passed the house unchanged it would go to the governor's desk.

In short, adding constitutional carry language would have killed a good bill. A perfect example of a "poison pill amendment", which is something Aaron Dorr and IGO are good at doing.

As usual, incremental progress, through one at a time good bills, doesn't matter to IGO. Aaron Dorr wants to force votes so they can tell you that all of the republicans are anti-gun. In the end, our representatives in the house did not let the amendment stand (even if the house did let it be attached, the senate would have removed it). The amendment was ruled non-germane, and Rep. Shaw moved to suspend the rules to consider the amendment.

The motion to suspend the rules failed 91-6, thankfully.

Aaron Dorr and IGO then turned around and used that vote to decry many solid pro-2A Republicans like Rep. Matt Windschitl, who is *THE* 2A legislator in Iowa. Bar none, no one holds a candle to Rep Windschitl when it comes to advancing and defending our 2A rights. You can read all of Aaron Dorr's bantering here. Here is a small sample:

"Yesterday we informed you that dozens and dozens of House Republicans voted against Constitutional Carry. For many, this was in direct violation of their signed 2010 Gun Rights Candidate Survey.
For all of them this was in direct violation of the Republican Party of Iowa platform wherein it says, “We demand full restoration of 2nd Amendment rights and call for a state law authorizing law-abiding citizens to carry firearms, open or concealed, without a permit.” (7.15)
--Aaron Dorr

Starting to get the picture? Rep. Windschitl was quoted on the topic by Mich Berg covering Aaron Dorr's brother Chris:

""I called Representative Windschitl yesterday. We talked for about a half hour. The keystone of the conversation was an incident in the Iowa legislature in 2011. As Windschitl relates, the GOP caucus was pushing a bill in both chambers to allow combat veterans who’d suffered from PTSD, and had that notification put into the national NICS databases (disqualifying them from gun purchases) an avenue to get their rights restored.

There had been, earlier in the session, a debate about introducing “Alaska Carry” – legalizing carry without a permit, as in Alaska, Vermont and Arizona – and/or “Constitutional Carry” (making carry laws a part of the Constitution) in Iowa. The bill had died…

…but the measure to restore veterans’ rights was alive and well, and had passed the Senate. All it needed was to pass the House.

Said Windschitl, “we took months to get everyone in on it. The NRA, Aaron Dorr (leader of Iowa Gun Owners) – we were going to write some bridge language [to make the bill mesh with the Senate version for easy passage].

Then, says Windschitl, “an hour before the final debate on the bill [to restore veterans' rights], a [junior GOP rep and IGO supporter] introduced a “kill all” amendment reintroducing “Constitutional Carry”.

The Speaker and the legislator spent hours on procedural maneuvering – attempts to suspend the rules and other parliamentary shenanigans, all of which failed.

Aaron Dorr and IGO have no ability to get any of their own bills out of subcommittee, so they have to play tricks and try to tank other bills. If they'd actually try working with the WHOLE legislature like NRA and IFC do, they might get somewhere. But instead they have one or two legislators doing their bidding, and they get nowhere because they're the type of people who couldn't make friends or play nice with others.

It's a good thing the amendment failed, because the underlying bill was a great thing. From IFC's 2011 year in review:

NIAA – Gun Rights Restoration

Signed into law by Governor Terry Branstad on April 19, this new law improves the language under last session's "shall-issue" carry reform law and updates Iowa state law to meet the requirements set forth in the federal NICS Improvement Amendments Act (NIAA).

Individuals who have been placed under certain types of mental health-related orders are prohibited by federal law from possessing firearms. The NIAA establishes clear standards for states to use in crafting laws to provide persons subject to these prohibitions a means of relief. The new law, under the guidelines established by the NIAA, will now allow a court to grant relief from the federal prohibition upon a finding that the petitioner will not be likely to act in a manner dangerous to public safety and that the granting of the relief would not be contrary to the public interest.

Additionally, for the first time in Iowa history the new law provides Iowans - including military service members and veterans - the ability to have their gun rights restored. Also of note, this legislation was unanimously passed in both the state House and Senate.

To date, 8 Iowans have applied for their rights to be restored and 6 have been restored. The remaining 2 were not denied, but rather had errors in their filing and needed to be resubmitted.

It all boils down to this: if Aaron Dorr and IGO can't have everything, they would have nothing at all. Aaron Dorr's tactics and approach result in zero progress for Iowans and their Second Amendment rights.

Special credit and thanks to "Spart" from AR15.Com forum for preserving this history