Five of the seven Democrats running for governor appeared at a fundraiser in Mason City tonight, expressing support for initiatives to address gun violence after Sunday’s mass shooting in Texas. Candidate Fred Hubbell, a retired Des Moines businessman, said refusing to talk about the problem is no longer acceptable.
“Clearly, we’re getting a lot more kind of these incidents and mental health is part of it,” Hubble said. “Access to guns is part of it. Let’s call it the speed with which guns can shoot, you know because they have these AK-47s and these things that you can put on them to make them shoot faster, we need to have a conversation.”
Other candidates said they support rolling back provisions in the new state law that has expanded gun rights.
“No one needs to carry an AK-47 into a McDonald’s full of kids and that’s what you can do in Iowa today,” said John Norris of Des Moines who served as chief of staff to former Governor Tom Vilsack. “That’s just nonsense. That’s going beyond common sense and reality.”
Norris also cited part of the new law that lets people bring a concealed weapon into the statehouse if they have a permit to carry it.
“I certainly respect Iowans’ right to own guns and certainly sportsmen’s’ rights, but we’ve gone too far,” Norris said. “…The promotion of guns in public buildings with children is just outrageous.”
Candidate Nate Boulton, a state senator from Des Moines, said he’s most concerned about the new law’s “Stand Your Ground” provisions that give people legal protection if they use deadly force to protect life and property.
“In Iowa we have a very good balance,” Boulton said. “We have high rates of gun ownership and low incidents of gun violence and we’ve seen things that are starting to look like they could lend themselves to disrupting that balance as we expand deadly force to include mistakes and things that could have unintended consequences.”
Candidate Andy McGuire, the former Iowa Democratic Party chairwoman, is also a medical doctor. McGuire said she wishes people would look at mass shootings as a public health issue that must be addressed.
“If anything else were killing Americans like this is, we would look into it,” McGuire said. “It’s not that I’m against anybody. I just am against people dying.”
Former Des Moines School Board members Jon Neiderbach, the other candidate at last night’s event, said people need to stop shouting at each other after mass shootings and come up with solutions.
The candidates spoke during a fundraiser for State Representative Sharon Steckman of Mason City, who is running for a fifth term in the Iowa House.
(Reporting in Mason City by Bob Fisher, KRIB Radio; additional reporting by Radio Iowa’s O. Kay Henderson)