Thursday, May 14, 2020

Letter to the Editor: What We Can Do About Gun Violence in Iowa

We applaud the Iowa Nurses Association in its recent issue of Iowa Nurse Reporter for taking a firm, evidence-based stance on gun violence: it is a public health crisis. We are two retired RNs who have been working in Decorah to educate our citizens about safe gun ownership and sensible gun legislation.
Over the past 6 years we have engaged with gun advocates, police, school personnel, parents, health care staff, and other concerned citizens.
We hope that all those who read this editorial will support and echo the positive actions nurses and doctors and ordinary citizens can take. To this end, we are including some resources you may not be aware of, along with ideas for future articles.

Iowans for Gun Safety , based in Cedar Rapids, “works to preserve and to strengthen gun laws, improving Iowans’ safety and health, based on evidence that better gun laws lead to lower rates of injury and death from gun injuries. We seek to educate the public about gun safety, the gun industry, and the effects of gun violence on individuals, families, and communities.”
Iowans for Gun Safety, P.O. Box 8834, Cedar Rapids,IA 52408-8834 (info@iowansforgunsafety .org) 319-551-4545. Scott Peterson, Board Chair.
Iowans for Gun Safety works with a larger organization, States United to Prevent Gun Violence, a coalition of 32 grassroots state groups. (www. Northeast Iowa Peace and Justice Center , 119 Winnebago, Decorah, IA 52101 supports IA4GS.

Our most urgent public awareness campaign in Iowa at present is opposition to the bill (SJR 18) in our legislature which seeks to add an amendment to our state constitution which, if passed, would make sensible gun owner restrictions virtually impossible. Currently our state functions under the federal Second Amendment. SJR 18 would add the following to Article 1 of the Constitution of the State of Iowa:
Sec.IA. The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed. The sovereign state of Iowa affirms and recognizes this right to be a fundamental individual right. Any and all
restrictions of this right shall be subject to strict scrutiny.

This proposed constitutional amendment adding “strict scrutiny” language to the Iowa Constitution could invalidate our state’s common sense handgun licensing laws, make it more difficult to pass safety laws in future, and pave the way for overturning laws that currently protect our
communities and our children from gun violence. In other states using “strict scrutiny”, litigation has proven costly.

We have seen the epidemic of gun violence from coast to coast, as well as in towns and cities in Iowa. Firearms are used more frequently in domestic violence incidents, and are the most common method used to commit suicide. We must stand together to protect our communities, not open the door to even more tragedy.

It is time for all of us to come together and oppose this proposed constitutional amendment that would endanger our state. We can all help by informing other citizens, and by asking our
legislative representatives to vote NO on SJR 18.

Please also check out The Brady Campaign and Everytown for Gun Safety. SMART and ASK campaigns inform parents about the importance of knowing whether there are guns in the homes where their children go to play. Parents have a right and a duty to know. Any guns should be unloaded and locked securely with ammunition locked in a separate place. These programs teach parents how to broach this subject and empower them to protect their children.

In addition, RNs can be very helpful by asking this question routinely during every health
history: Are there guns in the home? Are they unloaded and secured? After all, we ask about smoking and seat belts, so we should ask about guns, too. If this doesn’t happen at your clinic, advocate for it. You will save lives.

We also advocate for the Parkland Manifesto, published in #Never Again by David and Lauren Hogg, sibling survivors of the Parkland Florida Massacre.
1) Fund gun violence research. (For years the CDC was prohibited from doing research. In the current budget funds are allocated, but we do not know if they will be passed. )
2) Digitalize the record keeping of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. (So background checks will be more readily accessible).
3) Universal background checks--make them federal law so that all states have to comply. (This has passed in the House, but the Senate now needs to pass S. 42!)
4) Ban high-capacity magazines.
5) Ban assault weapons.
6) Fund intervention programs, such as: Group Violence Intervention, Cure Violence, and Hospital-Based Violence Intervention.
7) Pass “Red Flag” laws, also known as Extreme Risk Protection Orders, or ERPOs
8) Block people with a history of domestic violence from gun ownership. (Federal law applies only to those “convicted” of spousal abuse; it should also apply to dating partners and stalkers.
9) Establish a federal solution to stop interstate gun trafficking. Weak gun laws in one state make it easy to traffic guns into states with stronger laws. Only Congress can solve this.
10) Advocate for safe storage and mandatory reporting of stolen weapons.
11) Register. Vote. Write and call your Congress persons.

Again, we thank all who  take a stand on this public health crisis and look forward to seeing your further advocacy. Feel free to contact Iowans for Gun Safety for further consultation. They have lobbyists at the capital, observing the progress of gun legislation and reporting to the membership. Better yet, become a member of Iowans for Gun Safety!

-Julie Fischer, RN (

-Joann Hagen, FPNP

No comments:

Post a Comment