Not All Iowa County Attorneys Ready To Drink Miller’s Anti-Gun Kool-Aid
Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller picks fight he can’t win by promoting city hall gun bans.
Sacramento, California --(Ammoland.com)- Iowa’s “new” gun laws are still more strict than most states – further reforms needed
Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller just picked a fight he can’t win, legally, or politically.
On December 29, 2010 Miller’s staff issued a letter to Des Moines County Pat Jackson encouraging him to advise Des Moines County supervisors to violate Iowa’s firearm preemption statute.
According to the AG’s staff, despite Iowa Code Section 724.28’s command that local regulation of the “possession . . . of firearms . . . when the . . . possession . . . is otherwise lawful under the laws of this state . . . is void,” localities are still free to ban gun carry by way of Iowa’s “state criminal trespass statute.”
“REALLY!????,” says John Pierce, co-founder and spokesperson for Opencarry.org, adding “what part of ‘is void’ does Attorney General Miller not understand?”
The amusing part about the recent AG letter is that it cites only to a dated 2003 Iowa AG Opinion even though the opinion itself did not cite to ANY court case anywhere in the United States which held that a state statutory firearms preemption statute could be abrogated under state trespass law as applied to citizens who had a right to be on local property, e.g., paying a water bill, attending a public meeting at city hall, etc.
And since 2003, Iowa’s state wide gun rights reforms have clearly made the entire field of gun regulation a state affair in Iowa by eliminating local discretion in licensing, invoking what’s know as “field preemption” of local gun bans even if Iowa Code Section 724.28 did not exist. Moreover, since 2003, state courts around the country have struck down gun bans on preemption grounds in many states, including, inter alia, Colorado, Ohio, Washington, Georgia, and even New York.
According to Pierce, open carry at city hall meetings is legal and increasingly common in many or most states, including Michigan, Virginia, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Maine, and Washington, and that OpenCarry.org members will not stand for any city hall gun bans in Iowa.
“They will organize and attend city hall meetings to speak out against any effort to enact illegal local gun bans, and expect them to be legally carrying properly holstered handguns concealed or openly when they speak,” adds Pierce.
And Iowa’s state gun rights groups are not sitting still either.
Iowa Firearms Coalition President Sean McClanahan says that local officials are going to have plenty of opposition from gun owners if they try to violate state preemption – “NATO doctrine for gun owners is in effect here in the Hawkeye State. An attack on gun owners by one County is an attack all gun owners in every County” warns McClanahan.
Tellingly, not all Iowa County Attorneys appear ready to drink Miller’s anti-preemption Kool-Aid. Here’s a report from one of McLanahan’s Iowa Firearms Coalition members:
“I did take some time to call Larry Brock, the new Washington county attorney, this morning as a concerned citizen. From my conversation he stated that he ‘doesn’t necessarily agree with Tom Millers opinion.’” He has been studying a Michigan case that he said was similar to what their resolution was that got beat in court. I also brought up Ohio’s ruling yesterday. He said he was concerned about the liability that Washington County would assume with this new resolution. He said that Tom Miller was telling all the counties that instead of an ordinance, that a resolution was the best way to achieve their goal. I told him I would be in Washington on Jan. 18th and he looked forward to speaking with me on the subject.”
Iowa Gun Owner’s Executive director Aaron Dorr agrees that local officials will be surprised by the size of the hornet’s nest they will step on if they consider enacting local gun bans. But Dorr says his group will do more than just attend meetings – “we will lobby the legislature” to enact severe financial penalties on any preemption violation.
“We worked hard to reform” Iowa’s gun laws, says Dorr, and “We will not allow localities to spit on this legislative outcome.”
On the subject of Iowa’s “new” gun laws, you would not know it from some of the mainstream media’s reports, but Iowa’s laws are pretty much the same as they were in 2010, except for 2 differences: First, Iowa Sheriffs have substantially less discretion to deny gun carry permits. Second, Iowa Sheriffs can no longer issue “non-professional” gun carry permits to adults aged 18-20.
In fact, says OpenCarry.org’s John Pierce, Iowa’s gun laws are stricter than most other states. “In Iowa, citizens need a state permit to purchase a handgun, must be at least 21 years of age, and even then, they still need yet another permit to carry in public, even openly!”1 Contrast that with most states which “do not require a permit to buy handguns or carry them openly at age 18” adds Pierce.
And that’s why the legislature will be considering and likely passing further gun rights reforms in 2011 notes Iowa Gun Owner’s Aaron Dorr.
“We have a lot of catching up to do,” says Dorr, whose priorities include repealing Iowa’s permit to purchase statute and enacting “Constitutional carry,” a moniker for the growing practice by states to eliminate the need for any permit to carry handguns in vehicles (28 states), or to carry concealed handguns generally, as Vermont, Alaska, and Arizona have done.
National: John Pierce, co-founder and spokesperson, OpenCarry.org, John@OpenCarry.org, 276-206-xxxx
Iowa Firearms Coalition: Sean McClanahan, President, http://www.iowacarry.org, firstname.lastname@example.org, 515-442-xxxx
Iowa Gun Owners: Aaron Dorr, Executive Director, http://www.iowagunowners.org, email@example.com, 515-309-xxxx
- Iowa Code Section 724.28 (Prohibition of regulation by political subdivisions) “A political subdivision of the state shall not enact an ordinance regulating the ownership, possession, legal transfer, lawful transportation, registration, or licensing of firearms when the ownership, possession, transfer, or transportation is otherwise lawful under the laws of this state. An ordinance regulating firearms in violation of this section existing on or after April 5, 1990, is void.”
- 2003 Iowa AG Opinion: www.handgunlaw.us/documents/agopinions/IAAGOp03_4_1.pdf
- 2010 Iowa AG Staff Letter & Iowa Firearms Coalition preemption alert: www.forum.opencarry.org/forums/showthread.php?84772-Iowa-Firearms-Coalition-Preemption-Alert-December-31-2010&p=1432208#post1432208
- 2010 Colorado Appeals Court ruling that state agency firearms preemption statute precludes Colorado state colleges from banning student gun carry on campus: www.coloradodaily.com/cu-boulder/ci_14889133#axzz19u4heA2M
- 2010 Ohio Supreme Court ruling that state firearms preemption statute bars localities from enacting bans on, inter alia, open carry: www.dispatch.com/live/content/local_news/stories/2010/12/29/ohio-supreme-court-gun-control.html?sid=101
- 2008 Georgia Appeals Court ruling that state firearms preemption statute voids local park gun bans at www.georgiacarry.com/county/coweta_parks/Order%20Granting%20Pla%20MSJ.pdf
- 2010 Washington Supreme Court ruling that firearms preemption statute voids local gun bans at www.capitolhilltimes.com/Main.asp?ArticleID=28389&SectionID=26&SubSectionID=248
- 2010 New York Court of appeals ruling that even local “toy” gun bans violate implied or “field” preemption doctrine at www.volokh.com/2010/12/31/victory-for-firearms-preemption-in-new-york
- OpenCarry.org state gun law maps: www.opencarry.org/maps.html
OpenCarry.org was founded in 2004 by Virginia gun-rights activists John Pierce and Mike Stollenwerk and has served to ignite the “Open Carry Movement” that is sweeping the country. In addition to being an invaluable legal resource for gun owners, the site has quickly grown to be a social networking portal for thousands of American gun owners. Visit: www.OpenCarry.org