Concerns Over Iowa Stun Gun Bill Really About Barring Self-Defense

AP Photo/Michael Conroy, File

When we talk about gun control, we should discuss it as arms control instead. After all, the arguments made against guns are often repurposed to be applied to any other weapon one cares to think of.

The Second Amendment is also clear. It’s the right to keep and bear arms, not just guns. It’s meant to protect our means to fight against attackers with whatever tools we deem necessary. After all, at the time of the Second Amendment’s writing, private citizens owned arms ranging from swords to cannons, which is why concerns about an Iowa bill that would allow stun guns on college campuses is really about barring the tools for some to defend themselves.

Not even a week into the fall semester, Iowa State University police responded in August to a call about four armed men near the campus-owned Frederiksen Court Apartments.

The three handguns and one rifle police confiscated — including at least one with an laser meant to threaten or intimidate — were determined to be just BB guns. But they scared neighbors and brought criminal charges.

That episode, according to ISU police Chief Michael Newton, illustrates why all three of Iowa’s public universities for years have banned all types of weapons from campus — including real guns, pellet guns, stun guns and daggers.

And it captures some of Newton’s concerns with new legislation allowing stun guns on the ISU, University of Iowa, University of Northern Iowa and community college campuses — should Gov. Kim Reynolds sign Senate File 188 that passed the Legislature on April 23.

“We would have preferred that they were continued to be prohibited,” Newton said.

Lawmakers backing the bill, however, see stun gun allowance not as impeding campus safety but improving it.

That is, of course, because it does improve campus safety.

The example at the beginning of the excerpt is a prime example of why such a bill is needed.

Three individuals ignored the rules already in place to conduct a criminal action. Meanwhile, no one else had the means to resist beyond calling the police. Had they cornered someone without anyone notifying the authorities, what might they have done?

Lifting a prohibition doesn’t permit the bad people to carry something. They don’t need it; they’ll carry what they want regardless of the rules.

What it does, though, is empower the law-abiding citizens to act in their best interests. People can decide for themselves if they wish to carry the devices or not. Stun guns aren’t perfect, but they sure beat harsh language if you’re attacked and many people understand that. People carry them because they don’t want to be a victim, they can’t carry a firearm, or they’re uncomfortable with guns. That’s fine.

What Chief Newton’s concerns are really about, whether he realizes it or not, is that people will be able to defend themselves if they’re given the ability to have the means on hand. His desire that the prohibition stand isn’t one that would lead to safer campuses or safer students; it would lead to infinitely more victims.

Dec 02, 2021 7:30 PM ET