More than 300 Iowans showed up to the Capitol on Thursday as they rallied in support of the Second Amendment.
John Gates was one of those Iowans. He drove more than three hours to attend.
“I was extremely happy,” he said about the event. “I didn’t think that there was going to be this many people. I thought it was going to be a handful of people in a little room and we packed a whole hallway in this place. It was heart-warming.”
Nathan Gibson, the vice president of Iowa Firearms Coalition, said the turnout exceeded the group’s expectations.
“Absolutely fantastic turnout,” he said. “It’s absolutely fantastic, especially given we’re in a pretty good spot here in the state. It’s not like Virginia where the anti-gun legislation is breathing down our neck. To get people out here to take time away from their day jobs when, quite frankly, their hair is not on fire yet.”
Gates came out due to concerns with Red Flag laws.
“It’s an egregious violation of several of our civil liberties,” he said. “They’re not even rights endowed to us by our government. They’re right that we have as human beings.”
Gates said until recently, he was not very active when it comes to the Iowa Legislature.
“I just enjoyed my rights,” he said. “I was minding my own business and was content with that. But, as soon as people start trying to take those rights away, it’s time to stand up. I probably put it off for far too long. I’m sure that’s where a lot of people feel we’ve waited too long and it’s gone too far and now we’re fighting to take things back that have already been taken from us.”
Gibson said this is the fourth year of the event. The first couple of years turned out about 80 people. Last year the weather was bad and hampered attendance.
“This year just exceeded our expectations,” he said. “For every one of the people who showed up here today, there were probably 10 or 20 who they each said they knew who wanted to come but could not because of work. That just shows how strong the Second Amendment movement is here in Iowa.”
Gibson noted the importance of Second Amendment supporters in Iowa staying vigilant.
“Even during a sense of calm we cannot be complacent,” he said. “We need to continue to push and advocate for our rights. The biggest thing is we have to maintain a pro-gun majority in the House and Senate so we can get our Freedom Amendment.”
All in all, it was a humbling day on the hill for IFC.
“I’m proud of our membership and our legacy at the Iowa Firearms Coalition,” Gibson said. “This is the most important thing you can do. You can raise money through memberships, and yes, you have to do that because money does help win elections, but the most important thing is a grassroots effort.”