Des Moines City Councilman Joe Gatto

DES MOINES, Iowa – The Des Moines City Council on Monday night agreed to table a measure that would restrict high-capacity magazines and trigger activators if passed.

Two proposed ordinances, sponsored by Councilman Josh Mandelbaum who represents Ward III, received a tepid response from city residents. All of those who spoke before the city council only one spoke in favor of the ordinances.

The ordinances are largely identical. Both banned magazines that held more than 10 rounds and trigger activators such as bump-stocks, binary triggers, burst triggers and rotating trigger cranks. If the ordinances passed residents would have 90 days to get rid of those accessories or be found guilty of a simple misdemeanor which would include fines of $65 to $1000 depending on the offense.

A resolution to delay action on the two proposed ordinances for further research was sponsored by Mayor Frank Cownie and four of the six council members: Christopher Coleman, Bill Gray, Linda Westergaard, and Joe Gatto.

“I really want to make a difference, this issue of violence and mass shootings, I want to make our community here in Des Moines safer and I think that we need to study this more before we know this is the right strategy and we have the legal authority to do it. I think my desire to make a difference is important, but I think voting on this tonight would just make a point, probably a political point because it is not going to stand. We’ve had the benefit of some legal advice and input and I think that we need to continue to work on it,” Coleman said discussing the resolution to delay action.

He noted that he learned since the initial vote to move forward on potential ordinances that the issue is much more complicated than he thought with various court rulings and state law.

Gatto admitted he did not own a gun and only fired a gun once or twice in his lifetime.

Even so, he expressed concern about the action the city council considered.

“In the United States Constitution it says we have the right to bear arms, period. It does not say ‘you have the right to bear arms, but not in Des Moines, Iowa.’ That being said we have don’t have a large capacity magazine and trigger activator problem in our country. We have much bigger problems than those things and it is not going to cure anything,” Gatto said.

He added that he did not understand what the two proposed ordinances were for other than to raise people’s profile or run for a different position.

“This is something that the City of Des Moines should be tackling. The city council should not even be discussing this,” Gotto noted saying this should not be debated at the city council level.

“This is a problem up at the (state) capitol and in our federal government and until they change, no matter what we would pass tonight it would be changed in six months, we know that. It is silly to think that we are not focusing our time on things that matter – keeping our taxes low, fixing our streets, fixing our sewers, making sure that we have plenty of police officers, fire department on the street our response times are the right way, that is the job of what a Des Moines city councilman is,” he stated.

A motion to table the ordinances passed unanimously.

Watch the discussion below (video should start at the appropriate time, if not the discussion starts at approximately the 1:39:35 mark):

Several state lawmakers already threatened action should Des Moines pass the restrictions. Currently, there is an effort to add the right to keep and bear arms to the Iowa Constitution and require strict scrutiny on any attempt to regulate Iowans’ gun rights. The amendment passed during the current general assembly but will need to pass again in 2021 before it can go before voters in 2022.

Also at issue is whether an ordinance would be at odds with a state law that preempts local action on gun control.

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