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The 2020 session of the Iowa Legislature is over the halfway point. The second funnel is coming up on March 20, and we will be moving into the appropriations season soon.

This year’s big bill to protect your right to keep and bear arms is House File 2502. This bill is being referred to simply as the ‘Preemption Bill’. This bill strengthens and clarifies current Iowa law. In 1990 the Iowa Legislature put into place the first legislation to make clear that firearms law in Iowa will be made at the state level. Cities and counties were not allowed at that time to pass ordinances or resolutions that were more restrictive than the State of Iowa. This was done in order to prevent a patchwork of different gun laws throughout the state.

The next time we addressed preemption was in 2017. Over the years some of our more populated areas had placed restrictions that should not have been allowed under state law. It seems to be a never-ending misunderstanding among some city and county officials that if they ban possession of firearms in a defined area, that the bad guy will obey and leave his gun in the car. In reality, gun-free zones only persuade the law-abiding that they must obey the posted sign, and the area is made more dangerous, not safer. So, in 2017 the Legislature strengthened the current language by including language that gave citizens a cause of action to sue local governments if a gun restriction caused the individual harm. It also disallowed public universities from declaring the whole campus as a so-called gun-free zone. We also closed loopholes provided by the Attorney General’s office that allowed cities to use “resolutions” instead of “ordinances”.

This year we have to go a bit farther. HF 2502 once again makes clear that state law is the only allowable restriction on any firearm related matter. It protects gun ranges by not allowing them to be treated any more restrictively than any other public amenity. It makes clear that governments cannot ban guns, but does include a different provision. In specific venues such as concerts or large sporting events, if a public area decides they must restrict guns, they must provide adequate screening and also armed security. This is to make the strong statement that by disarming citizens in any place, the burden to protect that citizen moves from the citizen to the local jurisdiction. Large venues typically already use metal detectors and security, so this will not impact them.

The bill expands preemption to keep local governments from regulating modifications or attachments to firearms. HF 2502 also prohibits local regulations concerning ammunition or firearms storage. This is in response to the improper harassment of gun owners in examples found nationwide. Some jurisdictions have tried to ban standard capacity magazines and limit them to eight or ten rounds. Others have created rules that would limit how much ammunition a citizen can possess. We will not let this get started in Iowa.

We do not want our state to develop a patchwork of differing gun laws. It should not require a lawyer to advise you as you drive across Iowa in regards to gun, attachment, or ammunition ordinances. To be consistent, as we limit local governments we are also working to make Iowa no more restrictive than federal law. We can all work together to make federal law as close to the spirit of the 2nd Amendment as possible to ensure gun rights “shall not be infringed.”

Author: Jason Schultz

State Sen. Jason Schultz served three terms in the House prior to being elected to the Iowa Senate. Schultz served seven years in the National Guard and served as volunteer fire fighter for the Schleswig Volunteer FD for 13 years, two years as the department's chief.