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March 20, 2024

NSSF PROFILE Q&A: U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa)

Editor’s Note: We are pleased to post the latest of our occasional Q&A features with an elected official who supports hunting and the shooting sports. NSSF thanks U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) for speaking with us. Serving in her second term, Sen. Ernst represents Iowans while serving on the Senate Armed Services Committee, the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee, and the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee. Sen. Ernst previously served in the U.S. military for more than 23 years, attaining the rank of lieutenant colonel in the Iowa National Guard. Sen. Ernst also serves in leadership as Chairwoman of the Senate Republican Policy Committee.

1) Who introduced you to hunting and the shooting sports?

Growing up on a farm in Iowa, hunting was ingrained in me at an early age. When I headed off to college, I built upon this foundation and improved my skill of shooting throughout my time in the ROTC and National Guard, including while serving as a Company Commander in a combat zone in Iraq. I’ve continued to proudly exercise my Second Amendment right by renewing my concealed carry license – lipstick isn’t the only thing I have in my purse. To me, it’s about our rights and a sense of security, too. If there’s ever a problem, I’d want a good guy (or gal) to help keep the peace any day!

2) Describe your most recent hunting or shooting sports experience.

While I can’t turn down a good trap shoot with fellow Iowans, more recently, I joined some JROTC students for target practice at the Central Campus in Des Moines during part of my River to River tour of Iowa.


3) Describe your favorite hunting or shooting sports activity.

I enjoy target shooting. When I was in the United States Army Reserve, stationed in a unit at Fort Jackson, South Carolina, I was on my battalion’s pistol and precision rifle team. I placed second overall in the Division Competition called the Mayfield Match in the officers’ precision rifle competition.

4) Which piece of pending legislation related to conservation, hunting and/or the firearm industry is particularly important to you and why?

After hearing from Iowans fearing for their rights, their small businesses and their livelihoods, I exposed the Biden ATF’s attack [on firearm retailers] and conducted critical oversight to put an end to it. I truly appreciate NSSF’s support for my FIREARM Act, which would protect gun dealers’ Second Amendment rights in the face of the Biden ATF’s punishing “zero tolerance” crackdown. Basically, the Biden administration instituted a new approach that puts Federal Firearm License (FFL) holders at risk of having their licenses revoked for a single, minor, clerical error. American business owners lawfully exercising their Second Amendment rights should not be run out of business for a simple mistake. My bill would end this abuse by creating a safe harbor that would help FFL holders work with the ATF to address clerical errors. As I continue to hear from Iowans who are impacted by the Biden admin’s attempt to target the gun industry and chip away at our Second Amendment, this legislation becomes more important to put an end to any “zero tolerance” policies.

5) What do you see as the challenges and opportunities for hunters and shooting sports enthusiasts?

The rules coming from Washington go so far that they are even aimed at preventing the next generation from accessing opportunities to get involved in shooting sports, and they’ve only gotten worse under the current administration. In Iowa, we have no shortage of opportunities to introduce young folks to hunting. Folks can just look outside; I promise it’s a much different view than anywhere in Washington.

When the Biden White House tried to withhold funds for archery and hunter safety education, they showed how far they would go to advance their radical agenda and revealed how completely out of touch they are with Iowans. Make no mistake, defunding archery and hunter safety programs in schools could eliminate the chance for students in Iowa schools to learn safe and responsible firearm handling, lessons about recreational shooting sports, and experience the outdoors. That’s why I fought back and demanded an end to this unconstitutional guidance that could take away opportunities for Iowa students. Following my advocacy, the president reversed course, so Iowa schools can continue these important classes and activities.

I grew up with an appreciation for hunting, shooting and the outdoors, and I want to preserve that for the next generation, which is why I will always fight back for our rights.

You may also be interested in:

NSSF Welcomes Sen. Joni Ernst’s ‘FIREARM’ Act

ATF ‘Zero-Tolerance’ Policy Doesn’t Apply In-House

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