“There will be time for that later,” Governor Kim Reynolds said yesterday when asked if Iowa will pursue any new gun control legislation in the aftermath of the worst mass shooting in American history.
She was lying. There will never be a real discussion about responsible gun laws in Iowa so long as Kim Reynolds is governor and Republicans control the Legislature.
If there is any debate on gun laws in next year’s legislative session, it will revolve around how Iowa can roll back oversight on who purchases guns, what types of weaponry you can purchase and make it legal to use them in more circumstances. This year, Republicans pushed through the “Stand Your Ground” legislation. Rather than the law being used in valiant cases where upstanding citizens were ambushed by attackers in the night, it’s currently being tested to defend a man who engaged in a gun battle on Iowa City’s ped mall and for a woman who, though being abused by her stepfather, allegedly shot him in the back unprovoked.
Reynolds and Senators Joni Ernst and Chuck Grassley can send out all the thoughts and prayers they want, but we all know that at the end of the day they do not actually care enough about the people gunned down in this country to do anything about it. There will be a special place in hell for the scumbags who work in the NRA’s political and lobbying operation, but while they’re on this earth they have a stranglehold over Republican officials. The NRA pumped over $3 million into the effort to get Ernst elected back in 2014, and no one within the Iowa Republican Party has the courage to speak out against them.
And that will not change. Ever. Not even if the carnage we saw in Las Vegas comes to Iowa, not if dozens of Iowa citizens are gunned down in a horrific shooting spree. A gunman could walk into the Iowa Statehouse and slaughter half the House Republican caucus and they would not change their stance on gun control measures.
For now, these images of chaos are happening elsewhere. Iowa has been surprisingly lucky in that we have not seen the kind of mass shootings in our state that so many others have. We all know that won’t last forever.
No one can say anymore, “I never thought it would happen here,” when it is literally happening everywhere. It would come as absolutely no surprise if tomorrow a gunman shot up an Iowa church, school, mall, sporting event, concert or just a random street corner. And if it doesn’t happen there, then there’s one place it very well could in the coming years: the Iowa Caucus.
It will be no minor miracle if we get all the way through the 2020 caucus without some act of terrorism visiting our state. Russia made it clear how disruptive you can be to America by targeting its democracy. Don’t think that terrorists, political extremists or deranged murderers won’t heed that lesson and look to find ways to further undermine our democratic process.
There’s few easier targets than the type of open, grassroots campaign events we enjoy during the Iowa Caucus, which just so happen to have national reporters on the scene to cover whatever may occur. What would be a more chilling strike to a fundamental part of our democracy – getting to have real, face-to-face conversations with our candidates (and them hearing from us in return) – than if it gets too dangerous for candidates to schedule open forums and events in small town diners and coffee shops?
Iowa has an extremely important role in making sure that doesn’t happen. But will we do anything to prepare for it or try to prevent it? No.
One day Iowa will face the same senseless kind of massacre that Las Vegas and so many other places in America has seen. And I’m sure on that day Reynolds and other Republican leaders will insist that the gun control debate can wait for another day then as well. But between now and then, we won’t have had a real, serious discussion on it anyway. Because these people just do not care.
by Pat Rynard