House Republican unable to answer questions about just-passed gun bill

Thanks to Matt Chapman for sharing his story. Bleeding Heartland welcomes first-person accounts of interactions with Iowa lawmakers. -promoted by desmoinesdem

At the March 11 legislative forum in Waukee with Senator Charles Schneider and Representative Rob Taylor, I wanted to talk about House File 517, as that gun bill had passed the Iowa House and been sent to the Senate.

Before the event started, I had written a more detailed version of my concerns and included an article from Michigan I had quoted to illustrate some flaws in the House version. I gave a copy of both of them to Mr. Taylor and Mr. Schneider and wanted to ask Mr. Taylor if the legislation would permit long guns to be present at political forums and polling places.

I also asked for him to explain the exemptions from the civil liabilities clause that was in the bill.

To clarify, under House File 517, you can sue your municipality if you think your right to conceal or open carry was not permitted. I was next to last to ask a question, and Mr. Taylor only said that he would count on the Senate to amend the bill.

After the last speaker had asked his question, I said I still needed my question answered. I was not allowed to follow up by one of the Waukee Chamber of Commerce organizers, so I had to approach Taylor afterwards. He showed me the bill and told me he would email me later in the week with the answer as he didn’t know.

Now I will admit that I am new to politics on this level, but this shocked me and made me a bit angry. To vote for a bill that is this controversial and could have some dangerous side effects, not to mention a chilling of political discourse and not be able to address the effects or even if the polling place or forums would be exempted- I don’t know what to say. But I will be in touch with Senator Schneider as this bill works its way through the Senate.

I would just ask if this is normal. To vote for this bill, and consider all the amendments and not have a clear idea of its ramifications doesn’t seem right.

Matt Chapman
Waukee, Iowa

Video of event. I spoke near the end.

Source for Michigan article

My question and comments
Thank you for being here and giving us a opportunity to engage with you on our concerns. I’m Matt Chapman from here in Waukee. I would like also to thank Senator Schneider for listening to some of our friends at the NAACP in a committee concerning racial profiling. I wasn’t fortunate enough to attend but heard that at the end of the meeting and I quote the Senator “ I have learned more about racial profiling in the last forty five minutes than I have learned in my whole life.” A lot of folks who grew up and live or have lived in difficult circumstances feel they don’t get heard very often so thank you.

I have some concerns about the gun legislation that has passed the house. HF 517. It still has yet to be introduced in the senate. I believe Janet Petersen has been the designated Democrat on this bill. And I know you listen to folks with different viewpoints so I look forward to seeing the amended version. I would ask you to think of some of the people this bill will affect and also a few people that aren’t here today. Two of them were family members of mine. My sister Kay Murray and my nephew Matt Ellis both had their lives ended too soon by gun violence. I was at Senator Zaun’s event and I heard a family member of the officer who was slain recently plead for some sensible gun reforms. This needs to be addressed and points of view need to be heard on both sides. Not shouted past.

The civil liability in this bill as a way to enforce it concerns me. We just capped the payouts for asbestos sufferers and surviving families yet won’t let local control address safe zones in their own communities or face lawsuits. We are in a political forum and the thought of folks with long guns in here would have a chilling effect on our ability to freely express discourse and it would have the same effect on voter participation. And I honestly don’t know about polling places, if open or concealed carry would be allowed with the house version of HF 517. I would like to hear the exempt spaces explained if I could ask you for that Representative Taylor.

And I don’t understand the need for expanded magazines, short barrel shotguns and rifles and silencers and would ask you to Explain that to me as well. I got a grant to go to conservation camp at Spring Brook when I was a child and was a good shot. To go to a shooting range and blast off a few hundred rounds in a few seconds I would have enjoyed when I was younger. But the real situations that these weapons are designed for makes me uncomfortable. Folks can hunt, can have as many weapons they want in their home, go to shooting ranges and have every right pursue whatever liberties regarding firearms they want to. I think we need to weigh our liberties – the freedom to assemble and have political discourse without intimidation and to be able to go about our daily lives or vote without fear – and our second amendment rights. We can’t yell fire in a theater. And a well regulated militia is in the very document that we quote to defend gun laws. I also think the constant stream of folks being baited by the NRA and other groups and pundits that their gun rights will be taken away has much more to do with wall street investors bottom line and dividing the electorate than any real threat to the second amendment.

I see officers at every forum I go to these days and I would suggest getting their input as well. The majority of gun owners are responsible citizens. But one person with a large capacity magazine and every right to carry it anywhere is all it would take to create a tragedy. Two men in Michigan recently entered a police station- one wearing a mask and body armor, a short barrel rifle and semi-automatic pistol. The police drew on them. It did not escalate. But they have a very good chance of either walking or being charged with a misdemeanor due to the gun laws in their state. They went into a police station armed and combat ready and will get the equivalent of a traffic ticket at worst. That is madness to a lot of us.

Yet we are considering a bill – SF 414 -(this will be a study bill over the summer) that would would raise the prison time from 10 years to 25 for using a fake firearm or explosive for a robbery or other crime of intimidation. So you might as well use a real one. And four out of five affected offenders would be African American. So we are asking for some sensible laws to protect our communities and ask for local control on where folks can or can’t carry firearms.

Thank you for hearing us.

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