The most important part of being a legislator is problem-solving. That’s what Iowans send us here to do. And in Iowa, we have a problem with gun deaths. We have an average of 264 gun deaths every year – 80 percent by gun suicide.
As lawmakers, it’s our responsibility to address this problem, and do everything in our power to keep families safe. We can do that by passing an extreme risk law (HF 2367), which I introduced along with Iowa House Minority Whip Jo Oldson this week.
When a loved one is in crisis, an extreme risk law would empower Iowa law enforcement and the court to temporarily prevent that person from getting access to a firearm. This gives law enforcement another tool to protect Iowans and save lives.
This measure has been proven to prevent gun homicides and suicides and has overwhelming public support in Iowa. New polling shows that the majority of Iowans support extreme risk laws, and in fact, polling shows that voters generally support stronger gun safety laws by a three to one margin. Seventeen states and the District of Columbia have enacted extreme risk laws — including nine in the last year alone. It’s also currently being considered in Nebraska.
Because firearms are an especially lethal means of self-harm, temporarily preventing a person in crisis from accessing firearms can mean the difference between life and death. Approximately 90 percent of suicide attempts with a gun result in death. By contrast, death occurs in four percent of cases where people attempt suicide by other means—and the vast majority of all those who survive do not go on to die by suicide.
Also, mass shooters often display warning signs before committing violent acts, and extreme risk laws create a way for law enforcement to act before the warning signs escalate into tragedies.
As lawmakers, we have the opportunity – and duty – to move Iowa forward. Let’s listen to the voters and pass an extreme risk law. And let’s also remember that support for the Second Amendment rights of Iowans can go hand in hand with supporting laws that make our communities safer. We don’t have to choose one or the other. We can have both.
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