All three Iowa State Senators moved Senate Study Bill 1017 on to its next step at Wednesday’s subcommittee meeting. The bill would allow those who hold legal permits to go armed with, carrying, or transporting a firearm when transporting a person to or from a school or delivering an item to or from the school. The person is allowed to do so if they remain in a parking area or driveway designed for a motor vehicle.
The bill’s language changed slightly from previous versions. Last year it passed through subcommittee. It was placed on the Judiciary Committee’s agenda, and then removed.
The bill is supposed to address the number of parents who possess concealed carry permits and carry a concealed weapon throughout the day.
“Currently they are forbidden from getting on that property,” said Sen. Jason Schultz. “This is to let them simply pick up their child.”
Last year the language of the bill was narrowed and specified motor vehicle areas. Schultz said it only applies to those who possess a nonprofessional permit to carry. Even if constitutional carry would pass down the road, this bill would affect only those with permits to carry.
“They already would had to have a background check, finger prints — all the requirements of a concealed carry permit,” Schultz said. “Last year when constitutional carry hit the news some thought this would allow anybody to carry a gun on to school property. This bill says you have to have a permit.”
Senators Amy Sinclair and Kevin Kinney didn’t have opening statements. Those in attendance were then able to discuss the bill.
Tom Chapman of the Iowa Catholic Conference said that group is against the bill.
“As private property owners, frankly we’d like to have the ability to give exceptions to this which are currently allowed in law,” Chapman said. “I don’t see a need for change in the law.”
The Iowa Conference of United Methodist Church, Interfaith Alliance of Iowa Action Fund, Iowa State Education Association and Iowa State Police Association are all registered against the bill as well.
Emily Piper, representing the Iowa Association of School Boards, echoed Chapman’s concerns and said she didn’t feel a need for change.
“This is a very different situation than allowing peace officers to have weapons on school grounds when they’re picking up their children,” Piper said.
She cited a need for additional liability coverage which could occur.
Connie Ryan, representing the Interfaith Alliance of Iowa Action Fund, said the bill doesn’t have the safety of children in its interest.
“This bill would go too far and cross a red line,” she said.
Richard Rogers, the lone voice in support of the legislation, represented Iowa Firearms Coalition. He said this is a change that’s been at least a couple years in the making.
“We feel this is needed,” he said. “Until 1995 there was no rule against carrying a firearm legally. You could carry right onto school or into school as recently as 1995.”
The number of Iowans with permits to carry has skyrocketed. Rogers said when there were only 28,000 or 30,000 Iowans with a permit to carry weapons, it wasn’t an inconvenience to a lot of people.
“Now, with nearly 300,000 who do have a permit to carry weapons, this is the most common question we get from members and interested parties,” Rogers said.
A parent dropping off a child in possession of a weapon is breaking the law currently. They are supposed to stop off school grounds, unload the weapon and secure it in a case or the trunk before crossing a boundary on to school ground.
“If they wish to continue to carry a firearm throughout the day, they have to reverse the process,” Rogers said. “As a result a lot of people are carrying on the school grounds who don’t realize that this is a felony. We try to educate them to that fact.
“It also happens that there are some people, including probably people in this building who think there’s no harm going to come from me carrying my gun on campus for 30 seconds or one minute. They knowingly commit a felony and no harm does occur, but at great risk. This is a moral problem in the law. We’re kind of setting people up for a fall.”
Iowa Firearms Coalition doesn’t believe the bill is perfect, but they’re willing to work with the committee and legislators in the process.
“We do not think that this language is perfect,” Rogers said. “We’re definitely in support of this idea.”
Tim Coonan, representing Everytown for Gun Safety Action Fund, is registered undecided.
“Everytown for Gun Safety typically follows the lead of law enforcement,” Coonan said. “Law enforcement is undecided and that’s where we are.”
Many of the groups registered as undecided expressed concern over any changes in language.
The bill will advance now to the full Senate Judiciary Committee.