House Study Bill 254, an omnibus Second Amendment bill, made it through a Monday subcommittee with support from the two Republicans on the subcommittee.
The bill will allow EMTs assigned to tactical teams to acquire a professional permit to carry. Reserve officers and regular law enforcement officers will be able to carry in schools whether or not they’re on duty. It expands pre-emption and prevents landlords of government-assisted housing properties from banning firearms.
Obviously, it also eliminates the need for a permit to carry.
Richard Rogers with Iowa Firearms Coalition called the bill “historic.”
Though the permit to acquire pistols and revolvers will be optional, Rogers said the law on transfer of firearms will remain fully compliant with federal law.
“It’s important to note that,” Rogers said.
Background checks will still be required for the transfer of handguns or any firearm from a federal firearms licensee. Private transfers of handguns between Iowans will no longer require a permit to acquire, but it will be a felony to transfer or loan a person a firearm if the person who transfers the weapon knows or reasonably should know that the recipient is prohibited from possessing firearms.
“Any person who may lawfully possess a dangerous weapon will be able to carry it openly or concealed or in a vehicle,” Rogers said.
The bill doesn’t change any requirements for the possession of weapons or any changes to the few no gun zones in Iowa.
“The right to keep and bear arms is the natural extension of the universally recognized right of self-defense. The Supreme Court to the United States has recognized that it is a fundamental and individual right that pre-existed the Constitution,” Rogers said.
Rogers said the history of gun control in the U.S. has a history of bigotry, racism and fear.
“Outright bans and may issue permit schemes were created and used by the powerful to keep the less powerful in their place,” Rogers said.
Prior to Iowa changing to a shall-issue state, there were just 30,000 Iowans with permits. Today there are 400,000 permits. Rogers said the recent increase among Iowans who have bought handguns, sought training or sought permits to carry have been disproportionately women and people of color.
Rogers said until 2003, only one state recognized the right to carry without a permit. Now it is 19.
“This is a return to recognition and response for a constitutionally protected right,” Rogers said. “IT is not and can no longer be portrayed as a radical idea. There have been no ill effects from restoring liberty in other states and we can expect none here.”
Charlotte Eby with Giffords said the bill will unravel a lot of Iowa’s gun safety laws.
“Our goal as an organization, we want to preserve Iowa’s background checks,” Eby said. “We know Iowans support background checks as well as a permit to buy a weapon or a permit to carry a weapon.”
Susan Cameron Daemen spoke on behalf of the Iowa State Sheriffs and Deputies Association. She said the issue has really changed since 2011 when Iowa went to shall issue.
“Since that time we went from about 35,000 weapon permits to now over 400,000 people in Iowa that have carry permits,” she said. “From their view, this legislation is historic, probably won’t have the impact some think it will.”
She expressed concern for individuals from out of state as well as individuals. Individuals who are addicted to the use of alcohol cannot be issued a permit as well as individuals who could be a danger to themselves or others.
Scott Jones of the NRA spoke on the bill. He said the issue is not new or uncommon policy.
“Iowa’s in a minority as it requires a permit for both concealed and open carry within city limits,” Jones said. “As we see it, Iowa’s current system is set up as a privilege and not a right.”
Republican Rep. Jarad Klein said he “very much” supports the bill and looks forward to continuing to push it through the process.
Democrat Rep. Beth Wessel-Kroeschell spoke against the bill. She said repealing Iowa’s bedrock public safety laws is “extreme” and “unpopular.”
“Iowans strongly support permit to carry and background checks for the purchase of a firearm,” Wessel-Kroeschell said.
Iowa is a relatively safe state, and no constitutional right is unlimited, she added.
Republican Rep. Steve Holt said the bill does not eliminate any background checks and may strengthen them. With the new law in place, everyone will go through the federal FBI background check.
Holt said there is already pre-emption in place that keeps local municipalities to go beyond state law, this bill just brings a bit more clarity.
He acknowledged they will look into some of the issues Cameron Daemen mentioned.
“Eighteen states,” Holt said. “Let’s bear in mind we are not plodding new ground here, this is not some revolutionary thing here. Eighteen states already have constitutional carry or some would call it permitless carry.”
Holt speculated that many gun owners will continue to get a permit for the sake of reciprocity.
“Those practicing their Second Amendment rights will no longer have to get a permission slip to practice their basic fundamental right,” Holt said. “I enthusiastically advance this legislation to the full Public Safety Committee.”