Senate Study Bill 1017 passed out of a committee meeting on Wednesday afternoon. The final vote was 12-2. Democrat Senators Janet Petersen and Rob Hogg voted against the bill.
Senator Jason Schultz managed the bill through committee.
“Currently there are 270,000 permit holders in Iowa,” Schultz said. “Many, many of them are parents taking their children to school.”
Schultz said many of those parents don’t realize they’re breaking the law if they are carrying a defensive firearm while dropping a child or an item off at school.
“Ignorance of the law is no excuse,” Schultz said. “Yet I don’t believe it is the role of government to make felons out of otherwise law-abiding people.”
The bill allows those with nonprofessional concealed carry permits to possess the firearm as long as they stay in a parking area.
“The history of law breaking among nonprofessional carry permit holders is equal with law enforcement,” Schultz said.
Currently the bill does not extend to sidewalks, but that’s something Democrat Sen. Tony Bisignano objected to. While Bisignano said he believes guns are already allowed too many places, he would support the bill.
“I already think we’ve gone too far with where we can go with guns,” he said. “But that’s where Iowa’s come to.”
Bisignano said he represents heavy minority areas where many kids are walked to school.
“Why would we discriminate against those parents,” he asked. “If they’re permit holders, they have the right to carry — what’s the difference if you just don’t have a vehicle or can’t afford a vehicle or walk three blocks to school. Why shouldn’t you be able to escort your child with a gun as someone driving?”
Schultz agreed with Bisignano, but said he had made promises as subcommittee chair last year when the language was altered.
“I would support an amendment on the floor,” Schultz said. “We held back in order to hold people together. We want to be inclusive and bipartisan in this.”
The discussion moved toward details about which sidewalks were included.
“I’d call that the folly of gun control bills anyway,” Schultz said. “They’re not real world. I’m trying to introduce a little bit of freedom for law-abiding citizens who I think are over-regulated.”
The bill moves forward to the full Senate floor for consideration.
“I think this is going to be a welcome change to the well over a quarter million Iowans who are law-abiding, taking care of their family, going to work,” Schultz said.
Schultz said these folks aren’t returning home after dropping the student off at school. They’re going to work or have other responsibilities to take care of throughout the day. Right now some are taking their weapon out of concealment to obey the current law.
That’s forcing gun owners to abandon a basic principle of carrying a concealed weapon.
“This will actually introduce new safety standards to Iowa that we’re not enjoying right now,” he said.
Richard Rogers, with Iowa Firearms Coalition, said the group is pleased to see the bill clear this hurdle.
“We’re really happy that the Senate has moved so quickly on this issue,” he said. “We think this is an important issue that has easily been overlooked in the past.”
Rogers noted that up until 1995 it wasn’t illegal to carry a gun on school property, as long as you could legally possess or carry anywhere else.
“What problem existed that that law was necessary and was that problem resolved by this law?” he asked. “I don’t think anybody can really point to anything.”
Instead it was intended to crack down on gangs and drug dealers.
“That wasn’t really a problem here in Iowa,” he said. “This was too broad a net cast because they were concerned about youth and not your law-abiding adults.”