Iowa GOP claims on background checks don't hold up

Any day now, Governor Kim Reynolds is expected to sign the latest pro-gun bill to reach her desk. The most controversial provisions in House File 756 eliminate permit requirements for Iowans who want to purchase or carry pistols or revolvers. Since a background check is part of the current process for obtaining a permit to carry concealed weapons, gun safety advocates have warned the bill would make it easy for Iowans who can’t pass a background check to buy handguns.

However, Republican lawmakers have been telling constituents a different story. In their version of reality, the bill would increase background checks conducted in Iowa.

Where did they get this idea?

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Axne, Miller-Meeks support Violence Against Women Act

The U.S. House voted 244 to 172 on March 17 to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) with some new provisions. All Democrats present, including Representative Cindy Axne (IA-03), were joined by 29 Republicans, including Representative Mariannette Miller-Meeks (IA-02), to send the bill to the U.S. Senate. Republican Representatives Ashley Hinson (IA-01) and Randy Feenstra (IA-04) opposed the legislation.

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Court order clears path for more diverse juries in Iowa

For decades, researchers have found that all-white juries are more likely to convict Black defendants than white defendants, and that Black people “are systematically more likely to be excluded from juries in many contexts.” In addition, studies indicate diverse juries “perform their fact-finding tasks more effectively,” and have been shown to “deliberate longer, consider more facts, make fewer incorrect facts, correct themselves more, and have the benefit of a broader pool of life experiences […].”

In a 2017 decision that gave defendants of color another way to challenge unrepresentative jury pools, the Iowa Supreme Court recognized, “Empirical evidence overwhelmingly shows that having just one person of color on an otherwise all-white jury can reduce disparate rates of convictions between black and white defendants.” Yet African Americans have continued to be under-represented in Iowa jury pools and on trial juries.

A recent Iowa Supreme Court order takes a step toward addressing that disparity in the state’s criminal justice system.

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Early voting cuts would disenfranchise Iowa domestic violence survivors

Laura Hessburg is the public policy director of the Iowa Coalition Against Domestic Violence. -promoted by Laura Belin

We believe the sweeping election bill rapidly advancing through the Iowa legislature (Senate File 413 or House File 590) is bad for everyone. Iowans with the most to lose are those who rely on early voting: working people, busy people, senior citizens, college students, and survivors of intimate partner violence.

Current Iowa law gives people multiple opportunities and choices to exercise this fundamental right before election day. That is exactly what victims of domestic violence need to vote safely. Iowans can vote early at satellite voting stations conveniently located near them, they can drop a ballot off at a drop box, ask a friend to drop off a ballot for them, or they can vote completely by mail.

By undermining every single one of these choices and limiting the time and opportunities for early voting, this bill makes it harder for Iowans to vote and will disenfranchise victims of domestic violence. That is not what democracy looks like.

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