More than 1,500 Iowa gun enthusiasts celebrated their Second Amendment rights at the 3rd Annual IFC/NRA Rally near Searsboro over the weekend. Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal was the featured speaker. Congressman Steve King, congressional hopefuls John Archer and Ben Lange, and several Iowa House and Senate members and candidates were in attendance.
Jindal’s speech was very well received from the crowd. He received a standing ovation from during the middle of it. Many in attendance came for the purpose of listening to the popular Louisiana governor, who is a favorite amongst Second Amendment advocates. Jindal endorsed legislation in Louisiana for a constitutional right to keep and bear arms. That issue will be placed on the ballot in November.
Efforts to pass a similar bill in Iowa are held up by Democrats. Iowa is one of only six states that do not have explicit protection in their constitutions for the right of individuals to keep and bear arms.
“We passed it through the Iowa House and the Senate showed absolutely no interest in picking it up.” said Jeff Burkett, president of the Iowa Firearms Coalition. “That, to us, was a slap in the face to the people of Iowa because this isn’t like your normal legislation. This is something that we feel should get broad bipartisan support to put it on the ballot and let the voice of the people be heard.”
Dealing with the Iowa House also posed its challenges this year. One day in February, when a celebration of Black History Month was scheduled at the Capitol, Iowa House Democrats fled en masse because Republicans wanted to debate two gun bills.
Eventually, House Republicans were able to stand up for the Second Amendment. While debating constitutional carry during the 2012 legislative session, House Representative Lance Horbach (R-Tama) delivered a passionate and emotional speech about Second Amendment rights on the House floor. He delivered another stem-winder, focusing on the same issue, during Saturday’s rally. You can view Horbach’s original speech below:
Congressman King told attendees about his family’s long history of hunting. King still hunts with a rifle that was passed down from his grandmother. She used it to hunt prairie dogs, he told the crowd. King’s three sons often quarrel over who will get to use their grandfather’s old rifle on their hunting trips. He also spoke about the importance of protecting and preserving the Second Amendment rights that our Founding Fathers found so important.
The Iowa Firearms Coalition, in conjunction with the NRA, organized Saturday’s rally, held at Brownells’ Big Springs Shooting Complex. Along with political speeches, activities included training on firearms and firearms safety, introduction to various shooting sports and demonstrations and displays by firearms and equipment vendors.
Although the IFC tries to work with politicians on both sides of the aisle, Democrats were difficult to find at Saturday’s event. Pete Brownell, the CEO of Brownells and an NRA board member, made it clear which side he prefers. Brownell unveiled a Romney/Ryan “Government Didn’t Build My Business, I Did” t-shirt during his speech, as the crowd provided raucous applause.
“I thought it went very well,” said IFC board member Richard Rogers. “I think we would have had four times as many people out there if not for the rain. We got very positive feedback from the people who attended. So, we’re very pleased. Next year we’re going to emphasize ahead of time that this thing is on rain or shine.”
“We consider ourselves a true grassroots organization,” Burkett added. “We’re all volunteer and I think we did a really good job with the purpose of the event, which was to get people out there to get face-to-face with legislators. We had a good event.”
The Iowa Firearms Coalition also plans to play an active role in the upcoming November elections.
“Our goal is to work in conjunction with NRA to hone in on the races that we feel are going to be critical in order for us to be able to move forward in our agenda,” Jeff Burkett said. “Primarily, those races are in the Senate, but we don’t want to be negligent in defending the necessary seats on the House side of way.”
Photo by Rebecca Ervin
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