How Iowa Firearms Coalition Beat County Gun-Banners & Was Paid $100,000.00

As reported by AmmoLand News, Monroe County, Iowa Loses in Court Pays Iowa Firearms Coalition $100,000.00. See the announcement here. Here is how it all went down.

Judge Hammer Gavel Dollars USA Flag Winning iStock-MarianVejcik 638379194
iStock-MarianVejcik

Iowa – -(AmmoLand.com)- The History:

I’d like to share with you a modern-day story of David and Goliath.  If I were to mention 1 Samuel 17, the biblically literate among you would know the tale.  I highly recommend reading it, as it will make this story richer with context and provenance.  Of course, the story of David and Goliath is known far beyond the Judeo-Christian among us.  Do you recall it?  Goliath represents the mighty and powerful aggressors, while David represents the pure in spirit – someone who believed.

In 1990, the Iowa legislature preempted the regulation of firearms in the state with the enactment of Iowa Code 724.28.

Preemption doctrine refers to the principle that in a given area of law, regulations set by a higher authority will supersede those of a lower authority if the two come into conflict.  In this case, political subdivisions of the state (cities, counties, or townships) were prohibited from enacting any regulation of firearms that is more restrictive than state law. For those of you fortunate to have such a preemption law in your state, guard it with your very lives. Otherwise, your state will end up with an unnavigable patchwork of regulatory zones in which local tyrants strip you of your ability to exercise your fundamental rights.

As you might imagine, much like the ranting of our President and the immediate reactions of some state governments in response to the recent decision of the Supreme Court in NYSRPA v. Bruen, many counties and cities in Iowa disobeyed this law.  The problem of illegal local gun laws worsened significantly after Iowa switched from a “may issue” to the “shall issue” system of issuing permits to carry weapons, and the number of permit holders skyrocketed. To enforce the statute, the Iowa Legislature clarified and strengthened 724.28 in 2017.  Yet – you guessed it – the habitual violators of freedom and liberty continued to break the law.  Again in 2020, Iowa’s preemption statute was reinforced by broadening it to include all weapons and by providing standing to sue for those damaged by an illegal local policy.  Iowa specifically spelled out the word “carrying” (weapons) in 2021 for the judges and local authorities who were having trouble reading the code. An exception to the law was added in 2020 to allow local restrictions on the carrying and possession of weapons, but only in buildings where actual and adequate screening for weapons was in place and within which armed security personnel was present.

Freedom-loving legislators and Governors had thus adopted a good policy for Iowans and visitors to our state.  In practice, there are some quirks in the operation of weapons preemption, as the statute does not apply to the judicial branch of state government.  Most judges choose to make their courtrooms, jury rooms, judge’s chambers, and clerks of court weapon-free.  There are 99 counties in Iowa, and most are rural, where county courthouses serve many functions beyond the courts.  If you’re going to pay your taxes or research a deed, a judge’s “Gun Free Zone” won’t pertain to you.  Only if the county chooses to properly secure the building may they enforce a weapons-free policy throughout a shared courthouse.  But without actual security, no “Gun Free Zone” sticker is adequate – or allowed.

The Problem

Monroe County, Iowa, with the county seat of Albia, is one of the nicest places you’ll visit.  Color me shocked if you can find a more picturesque town square in the Midwest.  I’ve visited there many times with family and friends.  The impressive Monroe County Courthouse – a space shared by both the District Court and such county offices as Recorder, Assessor, and Treasurer – seems an unlikely site for what became a very unusual but extremely consequential legal battle. The problem wasn’t ever Monroe County, the City of Albia, or the people.

The problem was a “Gun Free Zone” sticker on the courthouse door that was completely illegal – and dangerous.

Knowing that the preemption statute had long been in effect and that there was no security protocol in place, a county resident and member of the Iowa Firearms Coalition (IFC) went before the Monroe County Board of Supervisors and asked them to remove the sticker and adhere to the law.  He was quickly dismissed.  Repeated attempts at offering the text of the statute to the County Attorney and Board of Supervisors were rebuked.  A sticker on the door does not a safe place make.  If Monroe County wished to place their entire multi-floor courthouse into a weapons-free status, state law required that they must provide specific and adequate protection for people.  But they refused.  IFC was asked to help, so a short series of emails were exchanged between the Monroe County Attorney and IFC Board Member Richard Rogers.  I was copied on all the emails, which offered IFC’s informed understanding of the legislative history and intent of the preemption statute.

The conversation was appropriate and helpful, but the Monroe County Attorney simply disliked what he was reading.  Although, of this, we can’t be sure.

There is something everyone can be sure of, though.  If you’ve ever had the clenched fist of government reach out to smash you like a bug, you’ll remember it.  If you’ve ever been sued, you’ll easily recall how you felt when you were served.  I know exactly where I was on February 26th, 2021, and what I was doing when IFC’s law firm, Hagenow Gustoff & Karas, reached out to tell me we were being sued by Monroe County.  I was sick to my stomach.  I was the Chairman of an all-volunteer Second Amendment advocacy group, not the Chairman of an outfit like Coca-Cola or General Motors. We’re watching NRA get bled dry by the state of New York – which is no accident, mind you – and it has been going on now for years.  Will this be IFC’s fate, I wondered?  And more importantly, what the heck did we do wrong?

It turns out we were being sued for having the audacity to remind the Monroe County Attorney and the Board Supervisors that they violated the Iowa Code.

IFC embraced the First Amendment to protect the Second.  Not only did they sue IFC, but they also named the local IFC member who had addressed them diplomatically and respectfully.  Getting a call that your organization’s registered agent has received a notice you’re being sued is one thing.  Being a local man working hard every day to keep the proverbial ball bouncing and being served is another altogether.  Imagine what that would be like for you.  The horror and shame associated with having an envelope handed to you by someone you knew, while among people you know, all as cancel-culture spools up to vilify you…  How would you handle that?  We’re talking about this small community with fewer than 8,000 people in the county.  …And all for respectfully addressing your elected officials through the civic process, as you point out their denial of the law they swore to adhere to and uphold.

The Battle

We met with our members and agreed we were better together than we were apart.  We also agreed on counsel.  We intended to use Hagenow Gustoff & Karas, as they’d been our attorneys for over a decade.

“Every Iowan has the right to ask questions of public officials, and especially to question an illegal policy, without the fear of being sued for doing so or having to hire an attorney for petitioning the government,” said Bill Gustoff.  HG&K wanted to bring in an experienced trial lawyer, Alan Ostergren, as co-counsel.  “Monroe County’s decision to sue someone because he simply asked his local government to follow the law is truly outrageous,” said attorney Ostergren. “The Monroe County board of supervisors voted to sue an individual because he wrote them a letter and sent a letter to the local paper’s editor. We will ask the court to hold them accountable for their unconstitutional actions,” Ostergren added.

Goliath said to David, “Am I dog that you come to me with sticks?” This was precisely what Monroe County’s Board of Supervisors and County Attorney wanted to portray to us.  Their message of, “We’re mighty, and you won’t raise a welt on our fanny,” echoed around in my head, but we agreed we were going to fight.  We were right, and the law should prevail, right?  I truly don’t think they ever believed we’d win.  And even if we did, I don’t believe they cared.  They are government, and it doesn’t cost them a nickel.  They just take it from taxpayers, so money isn’t an objection.  If they win, great.  If they lose, it won’t stick to them, so why not sue the little guy into oblivion?  I don’t think they counted on what actually happened.

We had our legal team.  IFC’s board agreed we needed to set parameters on the front end.  After all, we’ve been shaping policy in a highly impactful manner since day one, but the court’s decision in this matter would become case law and would impact the interpretation and enforcement of Iowa’s weapons preemption statute.  We also needed to do well by the membership.

And this all came on during the culmination of a decade of work to amend the Iowa Constitution with a “Freedom Amendment” for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms.  Iowa is one of only six states in the nation without expressed constitutional protections of Second Amendment rights.  It has taken multiple passes through the Iowa General Assembly to place the “Freedom Amendment” on the ballot for ratification by the vote of Iowans this November.  Being sued by a behemoth government wasn’t welcome, and we wanted to fight, but our board had to assess the chess board and carefully script our moves.  I was always confident, just like David, that we were on the right side of this.  But going to court is full of uncertainty, and the Goliath, in this case, had, and always has, nearly unlimited resources and power. Beyond the question of winning or losing in court, there was concern about what effect the demands and distractions of the battle itself and any attendant publicity might have upon the achievement of our primary goal, the adoption of the Freedom Amendment. To say my uptake in Tums became elevated is an understatement.

Each court skirmish includes motions, counters, and legal mumbo jumbo.  There was some relief when our legal team reported back the dismay and bewilderment on the part of Judge Yates as he attempted to understand what justified the Monroe County Attorney to sue IFC and our member.  We picked up some smooth stones from the brook in the form of counterclaims.  On the merits of what I like to refer to as the “2A Case,” we won handily in Case No. CVEQ009563 on June 30th, 2021.  This victory shored up the preemption of weapons law to the state in Iowa, smacked down the illegal actions of Monroe County’s leadership, and reimbursed IFC for reasonable fees of our attorneys.  However, on the merits of the “1A Case,” this left our counterclaim still to be settled.

Over the next year, the lawyers hammered away at one another.  The county’s insurance company sent a team of lawyers from a big firm to work through all this.  The Monroe County Board Supervisors and County Attorney were all finished and went about their merry way.  The new Goliath was the insurance company.  …And if you don’t think they have plenty of resources, you’re crazy.  But, much like David, we came bearing the truth and knew we didn’t do anything wrong.

The case was settled before trial with a payout of $100K in late June 2022.

After all the bills were paid, lawyers compensated, and the member who took it on the chin made whole, a very small portion found its way to IFC.  But that isn’t the point.  The IFC Board agreed early on to donate the money, if any, we were awarded to our sister 501c3 organization, the Iowa Outdoor Alliance (IOA), for charitable purposes.  David’s small smooth stone hit the mark, not once but twice!

We agreed before moving forward that if there were any financial windfall, we’d keep the money in our Legacy Fund to donate to the IOA.  We did this for one simple reason – no allegation of greed could be associated with our actions if we decided to give the money away.  Thus, we’d operate free from distraction and focus solely on winning the cases on the pure merit of our mission statement.  I’m proud of the IFC Board of Directors for voting unanimously to handle things that way.  It shows the character of the organization and its volunteers as well as members.

The Conclusion

Iowa law, just like all others, is both good and terrible.  It has fine aspects, but many that are flawed.  IFC has never sought not to break any law but has worked to change our law to the benefit of the people.  When this legal jeopardy was thrust upon IFC, we truly believed we could win if the law were interpreted in the spirit with which it was enacted.  But all too often, government power tends to corrupt otherwise fine people.

This illustrates for me, now more than ever before, just how important voting the “Freedom Amendment” into existence will be for Iowans.

We can’t count on commonsense to rule the day in a world in which it is increasingly absent.  We need not only a yardstick with which to measure but a backstop for curbing injustices.  IFC and our members experienced what happens when the government runs amok.  Every effort was made to hurt us, and we were.  But like David, we stood up to Goliath with full faith and were ready to accept the outcome, whatever that may have been.  We’re pleased to have won on the 2A Case and the 1A Case and set the first penalty marker for trampling a man’s rights at $100,000.00.

Over two decades ago, I stood in line for nearly four hours in the streets and sidewalks wrapping around the Accademia Gallery in Florence, Italy.  I waited all that time to enter and see the statue of David (David of Michelangelo).  I remember standing there looking at the empty sling pouch tossed over David’s back, thinking about him having faced Goliath.  I can still recall what it smelled like in the Gallery.  I didn’t know then I’d come to have some very small, in comparison, but personal empathy over David’s plight.

IFC has sought truth and, despite our flaws, has worked hard with others for our members and beyond.  There should be fewer David and Goliath battles in America, but that doesn’t appear to be what those who wish to take rights from their fellow man intend.  As long as they can abuse you, they appear willing and able to do so.  We won this battle, but the war is far from over.  And make no mistake, my brothers and sisters, when someone seeks to take things as sacred as your God-given and Constitutionally protected rights, it most certainly is a war.

To quote L. Neil Smith regarding politicians: “What his attitude — toward your ownership and use of weapons — conveys is his real attitude about you. And if he doesn’t trust you, then why in the name of John Moses Browning should you trust him?  If he doesn’t want you to have the means of defending your life, do you want him in a position to control it?”

In Liberty,

Michael Ware

Read Related: Monroe County, Iowa Loses in Court Pays Iowa Firearms Coalition $100,000.00


About Michael Ware:

Michael is a Christian husband and father to two children. He owns and operates Controlled Chaos Arms, a premier custom weapons shop in the Midwest. He serves as Chairman of the board of Directors at the Iowa Firearms Coalition. The pursuit of truth drives him in research and his writing.

Michael enjoys shooting, hunting, and fishing throughout the Midwest and Rockies. An avid outdoorsman and tireless supporter of all Second Amendment virtues, he can be found in his gun shop, in a tree stand with his kids, or on Capitol Hill lobbying in support of Freedom and Liberty at any given time.

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StLPro2A

Thanks for sharing the L. Neil Smith quote. Lived in Southern Iowa for several years, east of setting for this article in Burlington overlooking the Mississippi. Then, in Ankeny near Des Moines. Great people, values.

Sam in New Hampshire

Congratulations on your courage and your win, Mr. Ware. Also, sincere compliments on your very well written article.

KDad

Last year, the DemocRAT controlled Colorado legislature (both houses) voted out Colorado’s Preemption law and our gun-hating DemocRAT Governor “Twinkie-Dink” Polis signed the legislation ! Since then, Denver has made such a long list of places where you CAN’T carry a concealed weapon, you might as well just leave your gun at home. In Denver, a Concealed Carry License is now useless. Boulder is outlawing “Assault Weapons” and the town of Superior, in Boulder County, passed laws against “Assault Rifles” and “High Capacity Magazines”. These were challenged and held to be Unconstitutional by a Federal Judge in view of the… Read more »

Tionico

And if he doesn’t trust you, then why in the name of John Moses Browning should you trust him?

Which is precisely why I keep good ol’ John Moses on my hip wherever I go.

gregs

they should have had cameras recording the removal of the sticker for posterity. good to see some 1A and 2A cases in favor of freedom.
y’all need to stop drinking those estrogen cocktails and man the f up. if someone’s words or comments hurt your feelings so bad that you act like snowflakes or the purveyors of leftist intersectionality you should move to a country like england, where they arrest people who cause anxiety to their victims.
this site isn’t about you or your hurt feelings, it is about freedom in America.

Yote Hunter

Hear Hear!
Well said, patriot!
Boats and planes are leaving for England every day.
I wonder WHY these snowflakes aren’t on them???

Wild Bill

But this site is not anyone’s personal slaughter house, either. We are all guests here, and we should remember that.

Cruiser

It starts with things as basic as home owners associations.when the wrong people are elected they start taking away your rights with rediculous rules like banning certain Christmas decorations, next it’s the US flag, Etc.
Why is it always the control freaks that run for office?

Finnky

Who else would want the job?

As a rule of thumb, if they want leadership position, they are the wrong choice.

john

Democrats !!!!

Laddyboy

One Question: Did the initiators of this “law suit” end up paying the cost —- OR —- did the people of the area pay with/through their taxes? Instances such as this law suit the initiator(s) MUST be RESPONSIBLE and COSTS MUST be PAYED by the “initiators” of the suit, NOT the hard working tax payers.

gregs

that is the big issue because if they don’t suffer financially they will keep on violating the civil rights of the people they are supposed to represent. same thing with congress and all government agents, no qualified or sovereign immunity for any of them. why should the government not be held responsible as we the people are?

Tionico

It appears the county’s insurance carrier had to shell out. WHich serves them right for failing to “have a good chat” with their client, the COunty. What else REALLY needs to happen is to take the names of the county stupidvosors who pushed for this untoward legal action, and make sure the voting public are aware of who they are and what they did. Then bring that back in front of the people any time any of them are seeking another go at controlling the public purse strings. Malfeasance in office, such as deciding to go after these folks for… Read more »

Finnky

I’d think anyone running for the board could gain considerable traction by pointing out award from this frivolous suit cost $125 per resident of the county plus legal fees of all parties. Sure insurance company paid directly, but insurance companies adjust their rates to cover all claims, expenses, and a bit of profit. Small as it is, this claim will be included in setting future rates across the state. Insurance companies do have deep pockets. They are both legally and morally required to have deep pockets! Had an acquaintance in health insurance tell me she’d been called in front of… Read more »

Boom

FIGHT! FIGHT! FIGHT!

Orion

great article here and congratulations to all of you.

Laddyboy

; Congratulations on defeating Goliath/the CONTROLLERS.!

john

The Democrats are going to politicize into a nationwide pandemic with all the social distancing, mask and vaccine mandates. In other words, social engineering and manipulation of the masses. Get tested or arrested what will they com up with next. New York Gov. Kathy Hochul has already declared a state disaster emergency over monkeypox, and the state health department has called monkeypox an “imminent threat to public health.”  Beware of Gov. Kathy Hochul! She knew Cuomo was killing thousands of innocent seniors resting in nursing homes and said or did nothing to prevent it. She is as guilty as he is. Adams’… Read more »

Tionico

Democrats are going to politicize into a nationwide pandemic with all the social distancing, mask and vaccine mandates. Let them try. Nothing will happen unless WE knuclke under and OH BAY. I said back in Feb of 20 when the first whiffs of mug nappies beinb required were seeping out from the corners of their soiled nappies that they’d try and make everyone wear them, make it work like the “mark of the beast” (which it certainy never could be) for everyone everywhere. I never did put them on, and went everywhere that way. Got some funny looks, but most… Read more »

john

The federal government will place the power in the hands of each state we saw how that worked out.

john

When we elect a member of our community to serve they chose to run and accept the responsibility to be honest from the get go. Today that is not the attributes that those getting elected always follow through with. The first is that the money the state county or local municipality it is not theirs it belongs to all the taxpayers. When it is used to remove or change existing laws or used to pay for their defence it use needs to be questioned. Nice to have a win checked off in the box for the taxpayers, as pointed out… Read more »

JSNMGC

Today?

Your nostalgia is so strong it has taken over.

Darkman

You’re just Whining, because your Fascist ideology and Agendas have once again been defeated by Freedom and Liberty.

Ope

Darkman, you got the boy figured out perfectly. Just don’t let the kid draw you into one of his never ending back and forth exchanges.

Darkman

Not to worry. He’s one of the Whiner’s that comments on the TTAG website.

Ope

Darkman,not surprising at all.

Russn8r

Not surprised your socks are talking each other again, TEX.

MICHAELANGELO

Dummy!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Ope

Darkman,does the boy use the same moniker at TTAG ?

Darkman

Yep.

Ope

Darkman,thanks. I’m gonna have to look into that.

Ope

Darkman,you might want to disregard the other one here too. They both are just a complete waste of time. I stopped replying to both of these months ago.

Darkman

Oh I know these Mommy’s Basement Trolls well, they comment on TTAG regularly. Sometimes it’s just too much fun to rattle the bars on their cribs.

Ope

Darkman,so both of these are at TTAG too?

Russn8r

I’ve never commented on TTAG, TEX, let alone regularly. Can’t stop lying, can you?

MICHAELANGELO

Crummy Dummy!!!?

Russn8r

How did MICHAELANGELO learn that Wayne LaPierre is gay?

When his D tasted like S!

Michaelangelo is still gay.png
JSNMGC

If someone is using that user name on another site, it’s not me.

What have I written (on this site, because I don’t post on the site you mentioned) do you interpret as “Fascist?”

Why is pointing out that there is nothing new about dishonest politicians “whining?”

JSNMGC

I’ve never been on TTAG.

Russn8r

Silly goose! That doesn’t matter to a lying cop.

JSNMGC

Ope (Will/TEX/et al.) was quick to join in, even though he has never raised that issue before.

Let’s see if either takes a shot at explaining their view.

Russn8r

Joining in? Pretty sure they’re both his socks stroking each other. It’s his “style”, if thugs have style.

JSNMGC

Hmmm, maybe, but it seems like a low probability. His fit came out of the blue.

I write that dishonest politicians are nothing new.

He has a spasm and says I’m a whining, Fascist, snowflake, mommy’s basement troll, my agenda has been defeated by freedom and liberty, and he’s rattling the bars on the crib.

Ok.

Russn8r

It’s TEX’s thug M.O. Sock Strokinoff.

JSNMGC

The accounts do have one thing in common – they are unable to make an argument and support their position.

Russn8r

And room-temp IQ.

Ope

Darkman,just as you said !!! Hilarious,just hilarious! Lmfao !

Russn8r

Duh HUH-HUH !!! Duh huh-huh-huh! Hilarious,just hilarious! LMFAO (!)

JSNMGC

Ope (Will/TEX/et al.):

“Darkman,just as you said !!! Hilarious,just hilarious! Lmfao !”

Go give the guy on the other site what fer, Ope.

If you need help explaining why a Constitutional Republic with a (still somewhat) free market based on capitalism is the best system, let me know and I’ll give you a hand.

I can also give you some pointers on why Fascism is no better than Socialism/Communism. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

Russn8r

I should quote him as you do. Soon he’ll delete his posts & RUN AWAY like a Uvalde cop – as usual.

Last edited 7 days ago by Russn8r
JSNMGC

Oh boy, now you’ve done it.

Are you a security expert ?

Why DOn’t YOU put a BadGE on and ShOW US hoW it ‘ s DONe ?

ArE YOU a TRAined KiLLer ?

You MuST hAVe gotten a TIckET !!!

NeXT tiME YOU nEEd a cOP , call a PLumBER !!!

I Bet YoU ‘ re a FeLON !!

IT’s EAsy for a KEYBoaRD ComMando TO taLK TOugh on tHE InterNET !!

ArE YOU one of ThOSE DEfuND the POliCE GuYS , ( maybe ) ??

Russn8r

Might as well call a plumber. Best “service” you’ll get from Uvalde’s Finest is a toilet plunger up your ass while your kids are being murdered.

Uvalde donuts.png
JSNMGC

“Russn8r,I sure do agree with everything you wrote !!”

Russn8r

I’m SURE glad you completely agree with everything I wrote ! I SURE am !!

Tionico

DOOD! Take yer meds. You have a nervous twitch in your fingers and are typing crazy.

Ope

Tio,what you have with this person is diagnosed but untreated insanity. It’s so critical for mental illness to be treated but some like this person refuse help.

Ope

Tio,what you’ve got with this person is diagnosed but untreated insanity. He’s really a tragic case for a little over three years here on Ammoland.He also pollutes the TTAG site. It’s a disgrace.

Russn8r

LOL. He’s just mocking one of ex(?)-cop Ope-TEX-Bruce-Will-FordWill’s many sock puppet personas.

JSNMGC

Ope (Will/TEX/et al.):

“Darkman, you got the boy figured out perfectly. Just don’t let the kid draw you into one of his never ending back and forth exchanges.”

Why, Ope, would you like to discuss politics?

How did you come to the conclusion I’m a “Fascist.”

I pointed out that dishonest politicians are nothing new. How is that “Fascist?”

Russn8r

What fascist ideology? Do you know what fascism is?

Darkman

Yep. My father fought against it and kicked it’s Ass in WWII. Keep Whining Snowflake.

Russn8r

Translation: You have no clue what you’re talking about, TEX.

JSNMGC

Fascist?

What Fascist ideology and/or agenda do you believe I hold?

My point to john was that there is nothing new about elected politicians being dishonest.

It’s unfortunate the taxpayers had to pay, once again, for the deeds of government employees.

I’m against all forms of Totalitarianism. Please describe a “Fascist” view you believe I hold.

Stag

This is that strange phenomenon where if you believe in more liberty than I do then you must be a fascist. It’s incredibly difficult to understand. Only the most highly intelligent of us can ever hope to comprehend it.

JSNMGC

Maybe.

They have already made their excuses for not explaining their accusatons.

“Just don’t let the kid draw you into one of his never ending back and forth exchanges.” ~ Ope (Will/TEX/et al.)

Russn8r

Must be one o’ them Freedom Fascists.

Darkman

WHaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa.

Last edited 7 days ago by Darkman