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Iowans value their second amendment rights and we are further expanding them with a bill passed out of committee this past week. Whether you live in a city or in a rural area, your right to keep and bear arms is essential and we are committed to protecting it. This bill will reassure law-abiding citizens that they do not need the government’s permission to practice their constitutional right to keep and bear arms.

This bill DOES

  • Implement “Constitutional Carry”. Law-abiding Iowans don’t need to ask the government’s permission to practice their constitutional right by eliminating the need to get a permit to carry a firearm.

This bill DOES NOT

  • Eliminate the need for a background check in order to purchase a firearm.
  • Background checks through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) will still need to be passed in order to purchase a firearm, long guns and handguns.
  • Many Iowans will still likely decide to carry a permit (especially if traveling to other states), but it will be optional.

This bill DOES

  • Expand Iowans’ access to state-approved training organizations to become trained to carry a handgun by creating a database of approved organizations that can give training.

This bill DOES NOT

  • Eliminate the need to take training in order to carry a handgun.
  • Training still required if a person wants a permit to carry, as current law requires.

This bill DOES

  • Prohibit landlords of government-assisted housing from banning firearms.

This bill DOES NOT

  • Impact landlords who operate privately; they still have the ability to ban firearms.

This bill DOES

  • Keep Iowans safer by allowing law enforcement and reserve officers to carry firearms on school grounds regardless of whether or not they’re on duty.
    • This is common sense. If there’s a dangerous situation on school property, trained law enforcement officers should be able to step up and protect the students, teachers and administrators.
    • Allow EMT’s who train and serve with a tactical team a professional permit to carry.

What I’ve heard about this bill is that we are eliminating background checks for firearms purchases. That is not true.

Purchasing a firearm under current law can be done in a few ways. A person wishing to buy a handgun or revolver must have a permit to purchase, or a permit to carry. If someone wants to purchase a long gun they can either use their permit or go through a National Instant Criminal Background Check (NICS). A permit to purchase or carry is issued by the local sheriff and is good for five years. Training is not required to obtain a permit to purchase, and simple training is only required once for a permit to carry.

If this new 2nd Amendment bill becomes law, Iowans will not have to have a permit to carry or a permit to purchase. Instead of presenting a permit to purchase, Iowans will simply fill out the necessary paperwork and be run through a NICS check. If they are cleared by NICS the purchase will be complete.

It is important to remember that ALL laws restricting felons, domestic abusers and those with mental health problems from having weapons remain unchanged. Those prohibited by state or federal law, remain prohibited. This includes, but is not limited to, persons convicted of felonies or domestic abuse, those who abuse drugs or alcohol, and persons with adjudicated mental health issues. The penalty has been raised to a felony if a person sells a firearm to someone they know or should have known would be restricted from possession.

What is NICS?  NICS is the National Instant Criminal Background Check System and is run by the FBI and ATF (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms). It was created in 1993 and allows Federal Firearms Licensers (FFL) which are gun shop owners, pawnshop dealers, and retailers to determine if a person can legally buy or own a firearm.

Where does NICS get information from?  NICS collects information from the FBI and state and local governments. An FFL cannot see the information, they are simply told a person is, or is not, eligible to own or purchase a firearm.

How long does it take to do a background check with NICS?   In 2019, it took, on average, less than one minute for NICS to approve or deny an applicant.

Iowa and NICS by the Numbers   According to the FBI website, there were 58,299 Iowans in 2019 that would be disqualified for a firearms purchase or permit under NICS if they had applied.

Background checks remain in place under our new bill.  Replacing a permit to carry or purchase with a NICS check doesn’t make Iowans any less safe and doesn’t allow disqualified persons to have firearms.

Those concerned about loosening government regulations regarding firearms permits should know that 18 other states have implemented constitutional carry as we are doing with this bill. If there were huge negative consequences to this measure we would have heard about it. But follow-on discussion has been minimal.

It is also important to remember that those firearms permits do not restrict someone wanting to commit a crime. They only restrict law-abiding citizens. Those are the people whose 2nd Amendment right should be respected.

COVID Relief Bill Passes House

This bill conforms with federal law in that COVID Paycheck Protection Program loan proceeds that are forgiven, COVID state grants issued to individuals and businesses, and federal unemployment assistance payments all are not counted as income for tax purposes.

Author: Sandy Salmon