Because firearms have been a positive part of my family’s life in Iowa for as long as I can remember, I am shocked to see New York-style gun control bills coming to my home state of Iowa.
My grandfather was a gunsmith and my father shot on the Army Marksmanship Unit. My sister and I were both “brass rats,” which means we picked up our father’s brass, and when we got big enough we pulled targets for him.
Today I own the Davenport Guns and Shooting Club, where I share my passion for the shooting sports and firearms training. Over the years, I’ve watched countless women gain self-confidence as they learn how to protect themselves and their families with a firearm. The last thing these women want is an out-of-state billionaire telling them what to do. But that’s exactly what New York billionaire and former mayor Michael Bloomberg is trying to do.
Bloomberg’s group Everytown for Gun Safety is buying $250,000 in television ads in Iowa to pressure lawmakers into adopting a “red flag” measure — a dangerous gun control scheme that would leave law-abiding Iowans defenseless. Under House File 2367, a “red flag” measure, anyone could lose their Second Amendment rights as a result of baseless accusations and have no opportunity to defend themselves in court.
A bias against gun owners
Even the American Civil Liberties Union agrees with the NRA that “red flag” measures trample on our due process rights. An ACLU analysis of a “red flag” bill in Rhode Island concluded, “People who are not alleged to have committed a crime should not be subject to severe deprivations of liberty interests, and deprivations for lengthy periods of time, in the absence of a clear, compelling and immediate showing of need.”
Under the Iowa proposal, the name of a person whose firearms are taken away would immediately be placed in the federal government’s NICS background check database — potentially resulting in a lifetime ban on their rights. To get off that list and get firearms back, a victim of a “red flag” scheme would have to pay thousands of dollars in attorney fees and face a judge and a government prosecutor who has a low burden of proof.
Law enforcement officers across the country oppose these measures because they are concerned “red flags” will be abused and put officers and gun owners at risk. They fear that vengeful ex-spouses, a distant relative with a grudge, or even an angry co-worker could “red flag” someone with zero evidence. The result would be officers showing up unannounced at a person’s home and seizing their firearms. In Maryland, one of the first states to adopt a “red flag” law, an elderly man was shot in his home when an officer attempted to seize his firearms without any notice.
USA TODAY Editorial Board:How ‘red flag’ laws could have made a difference in mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton
Finally, this is totally unnecessary. Iowa already has laws in place that allow law enforcement officers to civilly commit a person for evaluation and treatment who may be experiencing a mental health crisis and poses a risk to themselves or others.
Iowans and Americans more generally don’t want an out of-state billionaire restricting our rights. We must stand together to fight the latest Bloomberg gun control scheme.
Jeanelle Westrom, the owner of Davenport Guns in Davenport, is the third generation of her family to be part of the gun industry. Westrom is the Iowa delegate for the DC Project, a nonprofit group of women gun owners who advocate for the Second Amendment. This column originally appeared in the Des Moines Register.