More than 1,200 people gathered on Saturday at Brownell’s Big Springs Range Complex in Searsboro, Iowa for the Fourth Annual Second Amendment Rally organized by the Iowa Firearms Coalition.
Some came for the opportunity to shoot some unusual guns. Others came to connect with people who are concerned about municipal, state and national infringements on the Second Amendment. Quite a few came to watch cowboy action shooters show off some fancy techniques. And some came to learn about suppression equipment that can reduce firearm noise.
President of the Iowa Firearms Coalition, Jeff Burkett told supporters at the Second Amendment Rally “We are not the nut job radicals the liberals try to make us out to be.” Burkett then presented Iowa State Rep. Matt Windschitl with the Iowa Firearms Coalition’s Patriot Award for his advocacy in the Iowa Legislature. Upon receiving the recognition, Windschitl said, “We have seen lots of attacks on Second Amendment Rights.”
Simon Conway, host of the afternoon drive-time spot on News Radio 1040 WHO-AM, spoke to the crowd about the importance of the Second Amendment. An immigrant to the U.S. who became a citizen six years ago, Conway is one of more than 183,000 Iowans who holds a license to carry a gun. Rep. Steve King who gave a well-received talk spoke about the importance of protecting the right to bear arms.
Tim Nass, a resident of Bellevue, Iowa came to talk with others about proposed city-wide ordinance that would restrict gun sales from homes in Dubuque. The ordinance, which passed the first of two votes by the Dubuque City Council 5-2, would bar firearm businesses in residential areas. If adopted, this ordinance would prohibit home-based commercial gun sales.
Joseph Thompson came from Cedar Rapids to shoot a classic 45 caliber Thompson submachine gun. Thompson, 18, was cheered on by his mom Teresa as he braced himself for the gun’s kick. “I always wanted to shoot one as a kid because my grandpa had shot one once. It was very exciting. My blood was pumping,” said Thompson.
A variety of collector guns were available for shooters to try for a fee. A demo magazine for the Tommy gun ran $30. A magazine for a 9×19 mm NATO sub-gun, such as an Uzi, was $25, as was the magazine for a 7.62×39 mm a Soviet AK-47. The opportunity to sit down with an instructor and shoot a 1917 30-caliber belt-fed water-cooled Browning set people back between $30 for a 25 round belt and $240 for a 225 round belt.
Suppressor education demonstrations were held on one of the shooting ranges. More commonly known as silencers, the purpose of a suppressor is to reduce the sound of a gun for hearing safety by trapping the expanding gasses at the muzzle and allowing them to slowly cool down, said Richard Rogers, a board member of the IFC. “They work much like a muffler on a car.”
Regulated under the National Firearms Act of 1934, suppressors are not legal in Iowa though they are in 39 other states. In 27 states, suppressors are legal for hunting, and two states restrict hunting with suppressors to varmints. Where suppressors are legal, they are subject to a $200 federal tax that dates to the 1934 law. According to the American Silencer Association, Iowa, Minnesota and Vermont are priority states for legislative change.
The Iowa Firearms Coalition, a firearms rights organization, was instrumental in organizing support for the Shall Issue legislation (Iowa Code §724, and specifically §724.7) which passed the Iowa Legislature in 2010 and went into effect in 2011. Since then, non-professional permits to carry a gun in Iowa have increased from some 40,000 one-year permits prior to 2010 to more than 102,000 permits in 2011, and to more than 151,000 permits in 2012. According to Rogers, to date there are now some 183,000 people in Iowa who have obtained a permit to legally carry a gun.
In addition to organizing events such as the Second Amendment Rally, IFC is committed to continue its legislative work cleaning up the current law, protect and expand gun rights, and add the wording “the right to keep and bear arms” to the Iowa Constitution. “We are pilots and farmers and doctors and lawyers,” said Rogers who has had a permit to carry a gun since 1971. As a gun rights advocate, Rogers says, “I was late to this party, but there are so many people who are invested in this.” A look around the crowd gathered at the Big Springs Range during Saturday’s rally suggests he’s right.
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