By Associated Press - Thursday, May 8, 2014

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - An Iowa congressional candidate said he sometimes carries a handgun into the Senate chamber while working there, despite an administrative code that bars people from bringing dangerous weapons in Capitol complex buildings.

State Sen. Brad Zaun, an Urbandale Republican, told The Des Moines Register (https://dmreg.co/1s6I8yF ) during a meeting with its editorial board on Wednesday that he occasionally carries a 9 mm handgun because he is concerned about Capitol security.

“Honestly, I have in the past. I don’t do it every day. But I will tell you that when I do public events, a lot of times I do carry,” he said.

Zaun said other Iowa House and Senate members have carried handguns into their chambers, but he didn’t name them.

On Thursday, a spokesman for State Sen. Joni Ernst said the Republican candidate for U.S. Senate has carried a firearm in the Iowa Capitol in the past - a reversal from a comment he made Wednesday.



Ernst spokesman Derek Flowers said there has been ambiguity in the past about whether lawmakers could bring a concealed weapon.

“During that time, on occasion, Joni carried. Prior to this session starting, the rule was clarified for her and she has not carried in the Capitol since,” he said.

Secretary of the Senate Michael Marshall said administrative code bars people from carrying dangerous weapons in Capitol complex buildings.

“The General Assembly has not exempted any of its members or its staff from this rule,” Marshall said in an email Wednesday to the newspaper.

Marshall noted a need for improved communication to legislators and staff about the rules. Zaun said in response he will stop taking a gun into the Iowa Capitol, but added that he thinks there needs to be a policy discussion on Capitol security. He said despite metal detectors at some public entrances to the Capitol, people have ways of entering through other doors.

Zaun is seeking the Republican nomination in the June 3 primary for the 3rd District congressional seat being left vacant by the retiring Tom Latham.

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Information from: The Des Moines Register, https://www.desmoinesregister.com

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