Rep. Steve Holt (R-Denison) managed House Study Bill 615 through committee on Thursday afternoon. The bill would prohibit a commission, county board of supervisors or city council from creating conditions that exceed or are more stringent than state law on the establishment, use or maintenance of a shooting range.
Current law prohibits cities or counties from having any ordinance, measure, enactment, rule, resolution or policy that regulates the ownership, possession, legal transfer, lawful transportation, registration or licensing firearms when those things are otherwise lawful. The bill extends the prohibition to modifications and firearm attachments and other weapons.
Political subdivisions may restrict the carry, possession or transportation of firearms if arrangements are made for screening and armed security personnel.
“This bill does not impact schools in any way,” Holt said.
An amendment was requested by the cities and was adopted.
Rep. Beth Wessel-Kroeschell asked Holt if there were any state regulations on shooting ranges. During the subcommittee, inaccurate information was presented that state law did not address shooting ranges.
Holt was asked what the cities and counties did to show a need for this bill. He referred to Madison County’s efforts in 2011 to erect local regulations after the Legislature worked on shall issue in 2011.
He said allowing local governments to have more strict gun laws than the state makes it impossible for law-abiding citizens to exercise their Second Amendment rights.
Wessel-Kroeschell asked how cities and counties would pay for screening and armed security.
“Well, that ist heir problem since they are making the decision to deny people their Second Amendment rights and their right to self-defense,” Holt said. “That is up to them.”
Wessel-Kroeschell asked if the bill would apply to city-owned hospitals.
“Well, again, if they want to create a gun-free zone in their hospital, then they can do so subject to what we have in the legislation,” Holt said.
Wessel-Kroeschell referred to the restrictions state government has put on local governments the past few years.
“Over the past years we’ve taken away the rights of local governments to raise the minimum wage, to restrict the use of such things as plastic bags, reduce local governments ability to create rental controls, we passed the ban the box out of Judiciary just recently, and now we’re expanding what local governments cannot do when it comes to weapons.
“Local laws address issues and dangers facing their communities. I believe every community is different.”
Wessel-Kroeschell said she doesn’t think the general public is aware of where concealed weapons can be carried.
“Carrying a concealed weapon does increase the risk that everyday disagreements can escalate into something that is much more violent,” she said. “There’s no credible statistical evidence existing to show that permissive controlled concealed weapons permit laws reduce crime.”
Rep. Wes Breckenridge (D-Newton) noted his experience working in law enforcement and said he carries. He added that he met with three county board of supervisor members to get their input on the bill.
“All of them told me, ‘don’t tell us what to do in our buildings,'” he said. “All three of my board of supervisors are Republicans.”
He said he further reached out to mayors throughout Jasper County and they had the same opinion.
Holt said he was willing to listen to any language adjustments Wessel-Kroeschell or Breckenridge wanted to recommend.
“There are several reasons this bill is needed in reference to that Second Amendment,” Holt said. “It is clear that a patchwork of ordinances and regulations varying from county to county or even from city to city within a county would make it nearly impossible for law-abiding citizens exercising their Second Amendment rights to know if they are legal or not as they travel about the state. A patchwork of different requirements would also be an infringement on those Second Amendment rights on our citizens if, in fact, they cannot logically and reasonably exercise those rights.”
Holt turned his attention at that point to the Des Moines Register, which gave the GOP-led Legislature thistles for its extreme ideas on Wednesday.
“At this point perhaps a bit of education is in order for the benefit of the Des Moines Register editorial board, since they seem to be fixated on bump stocks that are already illegal in federal law and they’re twisting other aspects of the bill beyond the bounds of common sense. In calling this bill fringe legislation, that was their term, and giving me a thistle for this legislation we are currently discussing, they contradicted themselves on bump stocks, proclaiming that the bill would prohibit cities from regulating bump stocks and then only a few sentences later, saying that ‘maybe he,’ meaning me, ‘didn’t get the GOP memo that the Trump Administration already banned bump stocks nationwide.’
“Perhaps their proofreader was home sick or something that day. Unfortunately, this editorial board showed profound ignorance on firearms. So, here is my memo to the Des Moines Register editorial board. There are a myriad of accessories and modifications for firearms, not just bump stocks.”
Holt listed a few of the accessories and modifications for the Des Moines Register.
“Perhaps the Des Moines Register Editorial board should get out of their office and educate themselves on topics they wish to discuss, particularly as it pertains to firearms,” he said. “This might actually enable them to understand the thousands of common sense Iowans who no longer take them seriously because of such ridiculous out of touch editorials as the one that talked about this bill.”
He finished by criticizing the idea of gun-free zones.
“In reality, a gun-free zone without screening and security will never stop a sick individual from killing innocent people,” Holt said. “It will stop the law-abiding citizen from carrying protection. It is illegal to kill people, but that does not stop school shootings and mass shootings. It is illogical to conclude that a sign announcing a gun-free zone absent screening and security will do anything besides encourage sick individuals into believing they have a shooting gallery of unarmed citizens.”