Iowa considers Second Amendment Preservation Act

AP Photo/Lynne Sladky

Missouri’s controversial Second Amendment Preservation Act doesn’t actually nullify federal law, it just means only the feds can enforce those laws. It’s an important distinction that too many people miss, and it’s why I think this measure will survive legal challenge.

Now, it seems Iowa is considering a similar law.

bill under consideration by the Iowa legislature that would penalize local police for enforcing federal gun laws has the backing of a Second Amendment absolutist who thinks the NRA is too soft on gun rights.

Aaron Dorr, a lobbyist for Iowa Gun Owners, has visited with Iowa state Rep. Jeff Shipley, a Van Buren County Republican, as he sought passage of the Iowa Second Amendment Preservation Act. The legislation, commonly called SAPA, would expose local law enforcement to penalties of up to $50,000 for enforcing federal gun regulations in Iowa.

Dorr and his brothers are known for their strident and unyielding advocacy for unfettered access to guns. The brothers have built a social media empire based around Second Amendment rights and are known for attacking Republicans who don’t support the gun laws they push.

The Dorr brothers were profiled in a Pulitzer Prize-winning NPR podcast in 2021, exploring the brother’s mission to “reconstruct America” using guns and Facebook. Dorr did not respond to a request for comment on this story.

Now, it’s no mystery that I’m not a fan of the Dorr brothers. Based on my understanding, the feeling is mutual.

Understand, though, it’s not personal when I say that I don’t think this is a great idea.

Look, I actually support SAPA in Missouri and, as noted, I think it’ll survive any legal challenge. However, since I’m not an attorney, I wouldn’t bank on that.

My point has been that I think it wiser to allow Missouri’s law to work its way through the courts to see if it will survive there before states seek to replicate it. If it doesn’t, the legal decisions could then inform lawmakers so as to make the next incarnation more bullet-proof in places like Iowa.

Of course, that’s a sensible approach and for some folks, we just can’t have that apparently.

It’s not a compromise to wait and adjust fire as needed so the next bills survive in court. However, not everyone seems to agree.

In one of his many videos supporting SAPA, Dorr said the law was necessary to protect gun owners in case the Biden administration tried to enact federal gun control laws, echoing the justification offered by the Iowa bill’s sponsor.

“What we’re trying to do now with SAPA is perhaps the most consequential gun bill in the history of Iowa politics,” Dorr said in a Facebook video to his more than 300,000 followers. “We know it’s going to be a major fight because we’re the ones who got this done last session in Missouri.”

The problem with this thinking is that, first and foremost, President Joe Biden hasn’t managed to pass any gun control despite his best efforts. I don’t think there’s really much threat of that, and with the midterms coming up, I suspect we’ll see more than enough change where any threat to the Second Amendment from the federal level will cease, at least for the time being.

Second, laws dictating the sale of firearms, particularly by FFL holders, will still be enforced because the ATF isn’t going to stop holding FFLs accountable. If so-called assault weapons are banned, they’re not going to be on shelves in gun stores regardless of what the state law says. Not in Missouri and not in Iowa.

While I like SAPA, I do think that it’s being sold as something it’s really not, and I think it’s being pushed when waiting and watching might be the wiser course of action.