October 24, 2014

“Stand your ground” bill passes Iowa House

After lengthy debate of an amendment that supporters believe would enshrine gun rights in Iowa’s constitution, Republicans in the Iowa House and that lone Democrat this evening voted for a bill that would give Iowans the right to use “reasonable force” to stop a crime in a public place. Representative Matt Windschit, a Republican from Missouri Valley, is the chief sponsor of that bill.

“The basic intent is to provide Iowans the upper hand in their own self-defense,” Windschitl said.

Under current law, Iowans may use “reasonable force” — even “deadly force” to defend themselves in their home or place of business. This bill would extend those legal protections to a person’s vehicle when it comes to using a weapon as self-defense or to prevent a crime. Critics like House Democratic Leader Kevin McCarthy suggest the entire proposal would make Iowa the “wild, wild west” again.

“Maybe loading groceries in the back of a car in the Walmart parking lot, you look over, somebody’s taking a sack out — boom!” McCarthy said during debate, yelling that last word to signify a gunshot.

A couple of hours later, Windschitl responded.

“I trust Iowans,” he said. “I believe in them. Let’s give them an opportunity to defend themselves without the fear of frivolous prosecution.”

This bill and the proposal for a constitutional amendment focused on gun rights now go to the Senate, where passage is not likely.