The partisan shots over gun rights kept firing Thursday at the statehouse — a day after House Republicans passed legislation to expand the right of gun owners to defend themselves in public and to insert gun rights language in the Iowa Constitution.
House Democratic Leader Kevin McCarthy of Des Moines made this comment during a news conference: “Their proposal is wackadoodle, O.K.? It’s way out, way out, far right. It’s Tea party extreme.”
A few minutes later, House Speaker Kraig Paulsen — the top Republican in the legislature — responded: “I think making fun of gun owners and people that feel strongly about their second-amendment rights in the state of Iowa is not only a disservice to Iowans, but it’s a disservice to the Democrat Party.”
The proposals now go before the Iowa Senate, where Senate Democratic Leader Mike Gronstal controls the debate agenda. He is raising concerns about the constitutional amendment would erase a host of gun restrictions, like the ban on guns inside the statehouse.
“Perhaps it’s an over-reach,” Gronstal told reporters Thursday.
Paulsen pointed out to reporters that Iowa is one of only six states that don’t guarantee the right to keep and bear arms in its constitution and Republicans want to give Iowa voters to chance to change that. He also touted the other House-passed bill that would give Iowans the right to use “reasonable force” to stop a crime in a public place.
“It says, basically, that you can’t be bullied,” Paulsen told reporters. “It’s basically an anti-bullying bill, from my perspective.”
Another gun-related bill pending at the statehouse would forbid cities and counties from enacting ordinances that ban guns from public places, although county courthouses and hospitals could still be declared gun-free zones.