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Iowa Firearms Coalition: Let Guns In at the Fair

John Pemble/IPR
Iowa State Fair

Gun rights activists are renewing their call to allow firearms at the Iowa State Fair, after a violent incident on the fairgrounds Tuesday night.   

A man was stabbed and critically injured in a fight involving four young men on the southwest corner of the fairgrounds.    

On social media, the Iowa Firearms Coalition is urging the state legislature to end the ban.

"If the Iowa State Fair can't stop violent crime during the fair they should allow lawful citizens to adequately protect themselves,"  the organization wrote on Twitter.

Rep. Matt Windschitl (R-Missouri Valley) managed the comprehensive gun rights bill at the statehouse this year.  

He said the bill that was approved and signed into law originally included allowing guns at the fair. 

“We had originally wanted  to keep that provision in the bill,” Windschitl said, “but as we moved through the process there were a few items we had to remove from the bill in order to make sure we were building consensus and to get the necessary votes to pass the legislation.”

"You shouldn't disarm the law-abiding citizen." Rep. Matt Windschitl

Windschitl said some lawmakers argued that troopers and police provide adequate security at the fair.

Others were hesitant to change long-standing fair board policy.   

“I personally believe it’s not the best policy,” Windschitl said.   “You shouldn’t disarm the law-abiding citizen.  It’s their fundamental right to self-defense, but there was uncertainty with it."   

Credit Iowa Firearms Coalition Facebook page

“Another stabbing at the Iowa State Fair this year,” one Iowa Firearms Coalition tweet read.    “How do you explain this?”

Windschitl said he will renew discussions on the issue with interested parties again next year about lifting the ban, but he won’t predict what the prospects would be for passage.  

If the ban is lifted, Windschitl does not believe it would be necessary to check valid permits at the fairgrounds gate. 

“If the fair board wanted to they could,” Windschitl said.   “That's part of the thoughtful discussion on how to accomplish this without disarming the law-abiding citizen.”

Story updated at 4:44 p.m.