Joe Gorton of Brady United Against Gun Violence is also a professor at the University of Northern Iowa. He talked at length against a bill that restricts local governments from enforcing gun-free policies unless screening and armed security are provided.
“I’m here to ask you to not support this legislation for a number of reasons,” he said.
Gorton said his understanding is that this concern about gun ranges applies to just one gun range.
“So I don’t quite understand why we would be pursuing a solution in search of a problem,” he said. “Just as a person somewhat familiar with firearms, I am a little concerned about placing restrictions beyond what local zoning boards would require to provide real safety for gun ranges.”
Gorton talked about exemptions and after listening to the House debate, he said the concern about a patchwork of laws is similar to how traffic laws change.
“You have to be attuned to that, just as you would here,” he said. “The only reason why we would see a patchwork of laws is because most Iowans really oppose many of the gun laws that are coming out of the legislature.”
Gorton said Iowans should have the right to limit magazines and weapons.
“This is not something that’s intended to encroach on anyone’s Second Amendment rights,” he said.
Gorton then said Heller v. DC is basically the law of the land on the Second Amendment. He quoted Justice Antonin Scalia.
“It would not prohibit states from having laws about carrying firearms in sensitive places such as schools and, hear this, government buildings,” Gorton said. “So, even the Supreme Court that passed Heller recognized that states and local governments should be able to protect their citizens in these local settings.”
Gorton said this will not provide any deterrent effect. Most homicides happen out of nowhere, he said.
“Once that person is in that state of mind that they’re going to take a life, nothing is going to deter them,” he said. “Especially if you can take a gun into a building, makes it that much easier. So I really fear that this is the type of bill that is going to endanger lives.”
Gorton referenced a study that showed from 2006-12 there were more than 1,400 unintended firearm discharges by police officers.
“What happens is if you approve this bill you’re going to increase the probability that people who are ill-trained, ill-equipped are going to be walking into environments that are basically pressure cooker environments and could become suddenly outraged or could just be so impulsive in their actions they unintentionally fire their weapon.
“So, I think what you need to decide is whether or not you think preempting local governments from protecting their own public safety is less important than the very public safety that we all want to protect.”