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The House Public Safety Committee held a subcommittee to discuss House Study Bill 615, a bill that addresses gun ranges and weapons regulations. The subcommittee drew a large crowd and, unfortunately, lots of misinformation. This bill ensures laws remain consistent across the state and that local ordinances do not deprive Iowans of their 2nd Amendment rights. Shooting ranges are popular across Iowa. However, some communities have been placing heavy burdens on current ranges and preventing the opening of others without good cause. The language in HSB 615 is designed to ensure ranges can continue to open and operate free from unreasonable standards or permit rejections simply because a city or county official doesn’t approve of firearms use. Counties, cities and other political subdivisions are already prohibited from regulating the ownership and sale of legal firearms. The law is clear that the regulation of firearms happens at the state level. This ensures that no matter where you are in Iowa there is no confusion on the law. Some political subdivisions have taken it upon themselves to attempt to regulate firearms accessories. This could include items like legal suppressors, scopes, and other attachments. HSB 615 clarifies that only the state can regulate these attachments. If an Iowan owns a legal suppressor, it doesn’t matter what county they live in, the attachment is approved by both state and federal law. This addition to the law protects law-abiding gun owners. The bill requires a political subdivision to provide security if they choose to ban weapons on their property. This ensures that while people may be unarmed, they are still protected in these buildings. The judicial branch also is prohibited from regulating county courthouse spaces they do not occupy. As usual, opponents have spread misinformation about this legislation which has made the discussion more difficult. Put simply, this bill keeps weapons laws consistent across the state and prevents political subdivisions from overregulating law-abiding Iowans.

House Study Bill 615 is designed to ensure laws are consistent across Iowa for firearms owners. A hodgepodge of firearms laws puts everyone at risk and could result in law-abiding Iowans being charged for crimes simply for crossing a county line. A fair amount of misinformation has been spread about this bill. Below are false claims made by opponents and the truth regarding their false claims.

Claim: Cities will be Unable to Regulate Bump Stocks

Truth: Bump Stocks have been federally banned since March of 2019. This means that no one can sell, own or use a bump stock on their firearm. There are no exceptions to this federal ban. Cities attempting to ban bump stocks are not actually accomplishing anything and wasting taxpayers’ money on an issue that is nonexistent.

Claim: HSB 615 attacks Local Control

Truth: Political subdivisions have never had the right to regulate firearms. It is clear in Iowa law that power lies with the state. The bill has language to clarify that the power to regulate firearms accessories is also a state power. Firearms accessories can be anything from a scope, to a legally owned and registered suppressor, or even a different size magazine. If each city or county regulated these items, Iowans would never know where their accessories are legal or illegal and subject to confiscation. A scope in Hamilton County could be legal but criminal to possess in Johnson county. A uniform set of laws helps keep all Iowans safe.

Claim: Political Subdivisions Can’t Regulate Weapons on their Property

Truth: Political subdivisions can still regulate the possession of weapons on their property. However, if firearms are banned, then individuals must be screened for weapons and armed security must be provided at the facility. Iowans should know they are well protected even when a political subdivision bans weapons in specific locations.

Claim: HSB 615 Allows Guns on School Grounds

Truth: Nothing in HSB 615 changes the laws on firearms in schools. Iowa code 724.4B clearly bans firearms on school grounds with a few notable exceptions that have been in code for a significant amount of time. Any claims that this would allow unregulated carrying of weapons on school grounds is simply false.

Jon Thorup

Author: Jon Thorup