Advocates push for gun legislation during week of action at state Capitol

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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) -- Dozens of volunteers and gun violence survivors shared stories and met with state legislators while advocating for gun safety at the State Capitol this week. It was part of a "Week of Action" aimed at preventing gun violence.

"I was tired of reading the newspaper, getting up and seeing mass shootings, school shootings, and I wasn't doing enough to keep my family safe," said Kate Casaletto, a volunteer with the Iowa Chapter of Moms Demand Action.

That sparked her and 75 other volunteers to take their message to state lawmakers for their advocacy day.

"We spent the morning in a legislative breakfast, hearing from survivors and mental health professionals and then we broke out to speak with our lawmakers," she said.

She says Moms Demand Action is getting the most traction with a strategy to keep guns away from people in crisis. It would allow law enforcement to ask a court to temporarily block a person's access to guns, if there is evidence they pose a threat to themselves or others.

"We want our lawmakers to do everything they can to keep us safe," she said. "What I got from our lawmakers in Johnson County was very positive."

Linn County Democrats say they also support it.

“Living in Cedar Rapids, it's becoming a huge issue here," said Representative Tracy Ehlert of Cedar Rapids. "When it comes to guns, Iowa has had a little over 260 gun-related deaths and 80 percent are suicide."

"If they have a chance to de-escalate, think about what they are going to do, get some counseling, some help, it prevents suicide,” said Representative Art Staed of Cedar Rapids. “If it prevented even 5 or 10 percent of the gun-related suicides, it would be a helpful law."

Staed says universal background checks are also needed.

"If you have measures that make sense and protect the public, and also protect hunters and sportsmen, I think we can do that, and we need to continue to work on that," he said.

Ehlert also supports checks, but says legislation is only part of the solution.

"It comes from our communities. We need to be more mindful of what's going on,” she said.

TV9 also reached out to Republican lawmakers and didn't hear back. They have the majority in both chambers and are unlikely to support this bill.