DAVENPORT, Iowa — A Cedar Rapids man was indicted in federal court Friday for unlawfully possessing an AR-15 assault rifle at a June protest in Iowa City.
U.S. Attorney Marc Krickbaum announced the indictment of Brandon Tumause Owen, 20, of Cedar Rapids by a federal grand jury for one count of unlawful drug user in possession of a firearm.
According to court records, Owen was stopped for a traffic violation June 7, 2020, by officers of the Iowa City Police Department. An impaired driving investigation was performed and indicated Owen was under the influence of marijuana.
The AR-15 rifle was located inside Owen’s vehicle. Under federal law, it is illegal for an unlawful drug user to possess firearms.
“Our Constitution protects everyone’s right to peacefully protest against injustice,” Krickbaum said. “It does not protect anyone’s right to illegally carry and publicly brandish an AR-15. We will prosecute those — including protestors — who commit federal gun crimes.”
Addressing the indictment of Owen, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Omaha’s Special Agent in Charge Eugene Kowel said the FBI “holds sacred the rights of individuals to peacefully exercise their First Amendment freedoms. When someone threatens the safety of peaceful protestors, we will step in to protect them.”
Kowel said cases like Owen’s are part of Project Guardian and Project Safe Neighborhoods, programs bringing together all levels of law enforcement and the communities they serve in order to reduce gun crime and make neighborhoods safer.
The case was investigated by the FBI, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Iowa City Police Department and the Iowa Department of Public Safety. The case is being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s office for the Southern District of Iowa.
*A criminal charge is merely an accusation, and the defendant is innocent until and unless proven guilty.