The Iowa House passed the Republican omnibus gun bill yesterday, but not before many Democratic legislators made impassioned pleas to vote it down. The most striking moment came when first-term Representative Ras Smith showed his colleagues how he could easily be seen as a “threat” under the new law, donning a grey hoodie and headphones. The 29-year-old Smith hails from Waterloo, where racial tensions continue to be a problem.
“While I agree that we are created equal, I do not agree that all Iowans are treated equal, or protected equally,” Smith said Tuesday afternoon. “While as a young man playing football in Representative Fisher’s district, and Representative Salmon, with your sons, in that football field in Garwin, Iowa, I didn’t feel like I was treated equally. I was called racial slurs more than ten times, spit in my face and told, ‘If I could kill you and get away with it, I’d do that.’”
The gun bill sponsored by Republican Representative Matt Windschitl of Missouri Valley will allow Iowans wide latitude in the use of deadly force. People will be able to exercise deadly force so long as they have a “reasonable belief” that such force is necessary, even if they are incorrect.
“The idea that you can be wrong in your estimation of a threat, but as long you have good reason, is terrifying for some of us,” Smith said. “The impact of this legislation on people who look like me, but may not dress like I do when I’m here Monday through Thursday, will be an increased risk to being kill. As recent as April 2016, there were cross burnings in Dubuque. I wonder if those who set that cross ablaze will see Stand Your Ground as a get-out-of-jail-free card based on their ‘reason.’”
Watch Smith’s full remarks here:
Yesterday, the Iowa House debated HF 517. With its inclusion of "Stand Your Ground" language, this bill has the potential to dangerously affect minority communities.
Posted by Iowa State Representative Ras Smith on Wednesday, March 8, 2017
by Pat Rynard