Tempers flare in gun debate

UPDATE at 5:30 p.m.:  Debate is over.  Read the Radio Iowa story. Below is a mid-afternoon blog post about the debate.

At this hour the Iowa House is in the midst of a debate about guns.  Representative Matt Windschitl, a Republican from Missouri Valley, is a former Marine and he is also a trained gunsmith.  He works in the family business in Missouri Valley, the Double Barrell Shooters Supply.

Windschitl has offered a new plan as an alternative to a bill that would take guns away from people who’ve been convicted of dometic violence.  Instead, Windschitl proposes a state tax credit for domestic abuse victims who buy a new gun.  And he also wants to create a new state fund that would provide self-defense training to domestic abuse victims, including the technique of shooting “to wound” rather than shooting to kill.  That new state fund would be financed by a new $500  fine assessed to those who are convicted of domestic assault.

Representative Wayne Ford (D-Des Moines), on two occasions, brought up the subject of sexual assault among members of the military because he’d seen a “60 Minutes” piece on the topic. 

“Even when you give a woman a gun and a right to kill, she is still a little nervous of pulling the trigger on a man who is beating her or doing something wrong to her and that’s mind-boggling to me,” Ford said.  “….How many times have we heard, ‘Oh, I love him.  He won’t do anything.’ And then we go to the funeral.”

Ford then asked Representative Ray Zirkelbach (D-Monticello) to “yield,” which means Ford asked Zirkelbach a question or questions during House debate.  And you should know that Zirkelbach was in the Iowa National Guard unit which spent nearly two years on active duty in Iraq.  “Did you see anything on how females were treated in the service fighting and protecting us Americans?” Ford asked.

“Yes, they were treated terribly by our government,” Zirkelbach replied.

“Can you expound upon that?” Ford said.

“I remember a few cases over there where — and it was always kind of a hush-hush deal because you’ve got to remember we were under the Bush Administration so, I mean, everything about the war was kind of messed up, so,” Zirkelbach said.

Representative Clel Baudler (R-Greenfield) shouted “point of order” at this point, interrupting Zirkelback mid-sentence.

House Speaker Pat Murphy (D-Dubuque) let Baudler have the floor. “I hate to interrupt, but this is getting far off the subject of domestic abuse.  This is not sexual abuse from people that basically don’t know one another. This is domestic abuse by intimate partners or spouses so I would ask that you confine your conversation to that and not (speak) about political positioning,” Baudler said. 

Murphy didn’t hesitate.  “Representative Baudler, your point is well taken.  The amendment that is before us deals with the withdrawing of weapons from somebody that’s been convicted of domestic violence and we would like people to keep it in the general comment area of that point…Representative Zirkelbach, would you like to approach the well?”

Zirkelbach replied: “Yes I would, Speaker Murphy.  I object to what Representative Baudler had to say.”

At this point, Murphy used his “dad” voice — the dad voice you might hear when you’ve done something really wrong as a child.  “Representative Zirkelbach, please approach the well right now.”  (The well is the central area of the House floor, where the House Speaker sits as he presides over debate.)

After a couple of minutes, Zirkelbach returned to his seat. Murphy told the House in a very calm voice that Ford had “four minutes and 23 seconds left to speak.” (House members are allowed to speak in 10 minute increments.)

Ford then, again, asked Zirkelbach about the incidents of domestic abuse within the military.  “Before I comment, I’d like to apologize for editorializing my answer,” Zirkelbach said to begin.

A few moments later, just as Representative Windschitl was recognized to speak before a vote on his gun-related proposal, House Republican Leader Kraig Paulsen asked for a time out.  Republicans left the floor of the House and met in private.

When debate resumed, there was no explanation, but debate on Windschitl’s tax credit for gun purchases and self-defense training for dometic abuse victims was tabled and House members moved on to other amendments that made changes to the bill which would allow law enforcement to take guns away from those convicted of domestic abuse.

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About O.Kay Henderson

O. Kay Henderson is the news director of Radio Iowa.