I had the pleasure of spending some time on the phone with Iowa Representative Matt Windschitl (R-56) this afternoon. For those who don’t know him, Rep. Windschitl is a staunch ally of the Constitution, liberty, freedom, and most importantly for this column, gun rights. We went over the proposed legislation that the Iowa Firearms Coaltion and the NRA will be pursuing this year, and talked about the prospects of seeing those pieces of legislation actually become law.
Rep. Windschitl believes that getting the right to keep and bear arms added to the Iowa Constitution is a fundamental change that needs to be done as soon as possible. Without having this right specifically protected in our state Constitution, we are subject to the whims of the U.S. Supreme Court as they interpret the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. He feels strongly enough about this legislation that his first reaction was, “Why isn’t it there already?” He doesn’t believe that there will be a problem in the House, but it may be a bit of a battle in the Senate.
As I mentioned in my previous article, it’s vital that this amendment gets a vote this year. If we do not pass it in this session, the very earliest we’ll have another shot at it would be during 2013-2014 session, with the second vote coming during the 2015-2016 session. In other words, failure to get a vote in the 2012 session would push this back for at least three more years.
Rep. Windschitl wrote the original “Stand Your Ground” bill in the 2011 session. The official bill number was HF-7 while it was in committee; once it was pushed out to the House, it was renumbered as HF-357. Due to a number of reasons, the bill was never voted on in 2011. Rep. Windschitl has taken the original language and modified it in preparation for another committee vote, followed by introduction in the House. He is very hopeful on getting a vote this year in the House, and believes that it could also see some action in the Senate if it gets passed in the House.
This is Rep. Windschitl’s personal project, having spent the last 4-5 years working on this legislation. To him, this is not a gun issue – it’s a personal freedom issue. We should not, as citizens of this state and country, be required to back down when our freedoms are being infringed upon by a criminal. This legislation would protect law-abiding citizens from wrongful or superfluous litigation in the event of a self-defense shooting, and it removes any requirement of a citizen first having to flee from danger before deciding to stand up to a criminal.
Rep. Windschitl is disappointed that so many localities have given credence to the “opinion” issued by Iowa A.G. Tom Miller that in turn has created the patchwork of local rules, resolutions, and ordinances regarding the carrying of firearms in public buildings in Iowa. He believes that Iowa law is very clear; unless otherwise prohibited by Federal or State law, the carrying of a firearm in any public location in Iowa is allowed. Furthermore, there was never an issue in the vast majority of these jurisdictions prior to 1/1/11, when the new “shall-issue” law went into effect, so why is there an issue now? What changed overnight?
He believes that something needs to be done now before this gets out of hand and the jurisdictions forget that their power comes from the state. However, while he believes that the House will probably pass this legislation, he is doubtful that it will get a lot of traction in the Senate.
We discussed the lead ban rules that Iowa DNR tried to pass over the summer when setting up the new dove season. Rep. Windschitl reminded me that all attempts to attach lead ban amendments to the dove hunting legislation failed, in both chambers. Therefore, this is nothing more than DNR trying to legislate from their chairs, and in an area in which they have no jurisdiction. He is very optimistic that this legislation will pass in both houses with very little difficulty.
Our last topic dealt with a plea from him for assistance. It is important for everyone who reads this and agrees with these four pieces of legislation to make contact with their state legislators and ask them where they stand on them. Go to town hall meetings, local gatherings, or whatever activities they might have planned, and ask them right out in public where they stand on these four important issues. Continue to show support for them. Write, e-mail, call – whatever it takes for the local Representatives and Senators to know that we’re serious, and we expect to see these four pieces of legislation come up for a vote this year. It’s one thing for folks to read a story on Examiner, then sit back and do nothing about it. It’s another thing to put forth the time and effort to let your legislators know how you feel, and what you expect from them.
Rep. Windschitl believes that as a society, we need to get beyond the belief that we need to ask a government body for permission to exercise our rights. Our freedoms, our liberty, our rights – none of them need the blessing of a government body. They are given to us by our creator, and no government body should ever have the power to remove them. He believes the time to take back our state and our country is now, and this is but the first shot in what will be a lengthy, but worthwhile, war over regaining our rights.