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This week was one of freedom and returning rights to Iowans in the way of freedom of speech and the right to keep and bear arms. The Second Amendment to our U.S. Constitutions states: A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed. The bill that we passed this week based on the right to own and bear arms simply allows law-abiding Iowans’ the ability to carry a concealed weapon without a permit if they are legally entitled to do so.

I have been challenged on this bill by people saying many things but here is a sampling:

  • You don’t need a concealed weapon for hunting,
  • This will cause more gun crime,
  • This will make our state more dangerous,
  • Crime will increase,
  • A well-regulated Militia is one that is restricted in the ability of people to use guns.

There are other comments, but these are the most common. When I am challenged on a bill or an issue, I often turn to the Constitution, and if that doesn’t give me an obvious answer, then to the founders and see what they have to say about the issue. So, I would like to give you some of the comments our founders had stated over 200 years ago so you can see what their thought process was on the issue of guns and ownership.

The Founders of the U.S. were very thoughtful and ready to admit they were not perfect and so they set up ways to change our constitution because they did not think it is a “living document” as some have come to believe. Rather they developed a way to change the Constitution. So, have that thought as we examine what the Founders felt about gun ownership.

George Washington in his First Annual Address to both the Houses of Congress on January 8, 1790, said, “ A free people ought not only to be armed but disciplined.”

Thomas Jefferson stated in the first draft of the Virginia Constitution, “No free man shall ever be debarred the use of arms”.

“I prefer dangerous freedom over peaceful slavery,” was another quote by Thomas Jefferson in a letter to Madison on January 30, 1787.

Finally, Thomas Jefferson stated in the Commonplace Book that “The laws that forbid the carrying of arms are laws of such a nature. They disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes…Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants; they serve rather to encourage than prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed man.”

These quotes and more show us the mindset of those who founded this great country of ours. The Founders obviously meant for the 2nd Amendment of our Constitution to mean that every person who wishes to do so and is legally able should be able to bear a weapon. The Founders did not mean for weapons to be meant for hunting, but that is one purpose for owning a weapon. The Founders meant that guns be carried for self-defense of each person not only from criminals but from a government gone bad.

The Founders also knew that if there were mandates to be unarmed crime would go up. The truth of that is being found today when we look at statistics of mass shooters. 94 percent of all mass shootings are being conducted in gun-free zones. It proves Thomas Jefferson 100 percent correct in his statement from the early 1800s.

I appreciate the cordial dialogue that I have had with several people regarding this issue over the last few weeks. Even though I don’t agree with the assessment that our state will become more dangerous I appreciate the respectful and peaceful dialogue. As always, I am honored to be your State Representative in Des Moines and hope to always bring our shared NW Iowa values to the concrete of Des Moines.

Author: John Wills


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