GOP Lawmaker Proposes Expanding 'Stand Your Ground' Law in Iowa

A Republican lawmaker is proposing a change to Iowa's self-defense law, saying that Iowa needs to rewrite a so-called 'stand your ground' statute.

"I feel that we’re limiting people the ability to stand up and protect themselves," says Mark Chelgren, a Republican Senator from Ottumwa. His bill "strikes the clause under the state's reasonable force statue that 'requires one to abandon or retreat'" if s/he feels threatened. 

During this half hour of River to River, Chelgren talks with host Ben Kieffer, and Iowa Public Radio statehouse correspondent Joyce Russell about his proposal. 

Representative Mary Wolfe, a democrat from Clinton, says Iowa the statute does need cleaning up. She says she doesn't know of a case in Iowa where someone as claiming to be standing their ground in self defense and were found guilty. 

"We do have a 'stand your ground' law--there is such a narrow exception of when you're not allowed to stand your ground. I'm not aware of a case in Iowa where someone has said that they acted in self-defense and were found guilty," she says. "Here's what I will say: it's not as clear as it should be, but with all due respect to Senator Chelgren's legislation, I think that this would muddy the waters and make it much more confusing." 

You can read Senator Chelgren's proposed bill here. 

The second half of the show includes a segment from this past Thursday's "Pints and Politics" hosted by The Gazette and Iowa Public Radio. Co-hosts, Ben Kieffer of IPR and Jennifer Hemmingsen of The Gazette, moderate a discussion on legislative proposals this session, including cell phone use and driving, water quality, education funding, and a statewide minimum wage.

Interested in coming to the next Pints and Politics event? It will be held at The Mill in Iowa City on Thursday, February 23. Click here to find more information and to buy tickets.