2020 was an odd year in so many ways. For one, we had a pandemic that shut down the entire planet. We also saw record gun sales, a huge amount of violent crime, and…oh yeah, riots all over the country. Let’s not forget those.
Meanwhile, lawmakers have kicked off 2021 in trying to address last years’ issues as well as other matters that transcend 2020.
In Iowa, a number of such measures made it through a key hurdle.
Measures seeking to bolster gun rights, provide tougher “back the blue” law enforcement protections and lower the penalty for possessing small amounts of marijuana passed under the wire Wednesday in advance of a bill-killing legislative “funnel” deadline.
Republicans in control of the Senate Judiciary Committee moved a dozen bills on to the Senate debate calendar, including a measure to ease gun restrictions by allowing permit-less “constitutional carry”; measures placing a $1 million cap on non-economic damages that could be awarded in medical malpractice and truck-driver liability cases; and legislation to give more time to bring charges against pedophiles who sexually abuse minors by eliminating Iowa’s statute of limitation on criminal and civil actions involving sexual abuse of kids.
Wednesday’s heightened committee work was brought on the first funnel deadline of Friday. The deadline is meant to winnow the 2021 session workload by requiring non-tax and non-budget policy bills to clear at least one standing committee in the House or Senate to remain eligible for consideration this session.
The most contentious part of Wednesday’s legislative action came over a “back the blue” bill that would increased criminal penalties for rioting, unlawful assembly, harassment, assault, disorderly conduct and criminal mischief — a measure Democrats said clearly was aimed at last year’s protests in the wake of George Floyd’s choking death by police in Minneapolis.
That would probably be because they were aimed at last year’s riots in the wake of George Floyd’s death. Stop calling them protests when they cause millions in property damage.
Then, of course, there is the push for permitless carry. That’s big and, frankly, may also do a lot to curb riots should something like that arise. Rioters won’t like the idea of the person they’re throwing a brick at being able to fight back.
Even if there are no new riots to speak of, constitutional carry means law-abiding citizens don’t have to ask the government for permission to carry a firearm, the right to keep and bear arms at its most basic level. It shouldn’t require a law for this kind of thing, of course, but so much damage was done to the Second Amendment in the past that this is where we are.
Getting constitutional carry through this first hurdle is good for the people of Iowa. Next, of course, will be the need to get it passed so it can be made into law.
Of course, there are a ton of other states where that needs to be passed as well. Like, every other state that doesn’t already have that law on the books. For now, though, Iowa is the focus. It’s time for this to happen.