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Obama speaks of gun reforms that would not matter under Iowa bill

In the days since a lone gunman opened fire in Arizona, killing six people and wounding an additional 13, roughly 2,000 Americans have lost their lives as a result of gun violence. That, according to President Barack Obama, is unacceptable.

“Like the majority of Americans, I believe that the Second Amendment guarantees an individual right to bear arms,” Obama wrote in a guest editorial that appeared in the Arizona Daily Star.

“And, in fact, my administration has not curtailed the rights of gun owners — it has expanded them, including allowing people to carry their guns in national parks and wildlife refuges.”

Those who advocate for gun safety, he said, need to recognize that “almost all gun owners in America are highly responsible,” and go to great lengths to obtain and use their weapons legally.

“Likewise, advocates for gun owners should accept the awful reality that gun violence affects Americans everywhere, whether on the streets of Chicago or at a supermarket in Tuscon,” Obama said.

The column offered by Obama comes on the heels of an open microphone at the Iowa Statehouse that revealed an embarrassing exchange between Republican lawmakers.

Iowa Rep. Jeff Kaufmann (R-Wilton) characterized proposed legislation that would allow Iowans to carry weapons without a background check or permits as a “crazy, give-a-handgun-to-a-schizophrenic-bill.” Kaufmann has since described his comment as an ill-timed joke, and has said he hopes the unintended public exchange will spark further discussion on the intersection of mental health issues and public safety.

Despite his now open assessment of the proposed bill, however, Kaufmann has not signaled that his support has waned for the measure. And, Iowa gun advocates believe he will continue to back the bill he summarized as “crazy.”

“We don’t believe he is in anyway backing down from his support for any of the gun bills currently being heard,” Sean McClanahan, president of the Iowa Firearms Coaltion told KCRG. “Our lobbyist as well as the NRA lobbyist works with Kaufmann on a daily basis at the capitol. He is one of our biggest supporters.”

The compromise envisioned by Obama contains three key steps, all related to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System:

  • Enforcement of existing laws, which would include timely and complete transfer of data by states to the national system
  • Rewards for states that provide the best data
  • Enhancements to the existing system to make it “faster and nimbler”

If Iowa lawmakers decide to pass the proposed legislation referenced by Kaufmann, Obama’s changes wouldn’t matter to the state. Under the bill, any Iowan of legal age would be able to carry a weapon, and no background check would be required.

“Most gun-control advocates know that most gun owners are responsible citizens. Most gun owners know that the word “commonsense” isn’t a code word for “confiscation.” And none of us should be willing to remain passive in the face of violence or resigned to watching helplessly as another rampage unfolds on television,” Obama said.

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