House Democrats have returned to the statehouse and their leader says the group walked out of the capitol earlier today to put a spotlight on a gun-rights proposal House Republicans intend to debate. House Democratic Leader Kevin McCarthy held a news conference at 4:15 this afternoon to denounce the legislation. (Find the audio here.)
“It eliminates, through the constitution, any gun law,” McCarthy said. “That’s a problem.”
The resolution, which calls for an amendment to the state’s constitution, would put the same gun rights language in Iowa’s constitution as is currently in the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. McCarthy said Republicans intend to expand that, and try to amend the constitution to eliminate all gun laws.
“All gun laws regarding transporting, carrying, acquiring, purchasing — all gun laws gone and not through legislation, but through altering the constitution,” McCarthy said. “Not only was this dropped on us today, but we wanted to buy some needed time. We left in protest so there could be some openness and some transparency and some sunlight drawn on this issue which is very extreme, very extreme.”
According to McCarthy, the “vast majority” of Democrats support the right to keep and bear arms.
“We also believe that public safety is very, very important,” McCarthy said, “and there must be a balance.”
Shortly before five o’clock this afternoon the House began debating the proposal that sparked today’s controversy.