In a newly released video from a 2012 National Rifle Association event, Iowa Republican senate candidate Joni Ernst said that she would use a gun to defend herself from the government.
“I do believe in the right to carry, and I believe in the right to defend myself and my family — whether it’s from an intruder, or whether it’s from the government, should they decide that my rights are no longer important,” Ernst said at the rally, which was held about a month after James Holmes allegedly murdered 12 people in Aurora, CO.
Ernst is known for her support of gun rights. She made a splash in May with an ad where she promised to “unload” on Obamacare; the ad showed her firing a handgun at a shooting range, as the narrator says that “Joni doesn’t miss much.” Also in May, The Des Moines Register reported that Ernst had brought a gun into Iowa’s capital before it was outlawed. The NRA gave her an ‘A’ rating and endorsed her for her opposition of universal background checks and ban on lead ammunition. In a GOP primary debate, Ernst described the death of seven people at the University of California Santa Barbara as an “unfortunate accident” and that “because of a horrible, horrible tragedy, I don’t believe we should be infringing upon peoples’ Second Amendment rights.”
At the time of Ernst’s speech, the NRA and other gun lobbyists were pushing the conspiracy theory that a universal background checks bill was a ruse to allow the government to confiscate guns and declare marshal law. Following the Newtown shooting, the director of Gun Owners of America warned that Americans should be prepared to take on the government with guns. The NRA also suggested that black people needed guns to protect themselves from the government. Several lawmakers also took up the line, which even led to specific language in the bill banning gun registries. The bill still failed.
The Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence gave Iowa a C- for its gun laws. Iowa does not prohibit owning assault weapons or limit the number of guns that a person can purchase at one time. In addition, the state does not require the registration of firearms or background checks by unlicensed dealers. Iowa residents must get permits for hand guns; both open and concealed carry of hand guns is legal if the owner has a permit. Open carry for long guns is legal without a permit.
Amelia Rosch is an intern for ThinkProgress.