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March 25, 2021

Governor has Called Iowa’s Background Checks and Permitting Requirement “Reasonable and Responsible”

Vast Majority of Iowans, Including Gun Owners, Support Background Checks on All Gun Sales

The Iowa Police Chiefs Association Formally Opposes this Measure

Audio of the recording is available HERE.

DES MOINES, Iowa – Today, Everytown for Gun Safety and Iowa Moms Demand Action hosted a press conference call with Senate Minority Leader Zach Wahls, Rep. Christina Bohannan, and policy experts and advocates to urge Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds to veto House File 756, a bill which would repeal Iowa’s background check requirement for unlicensed handgun sales and repeal Iowa’s permit requirement for carrying a concealed handgun in public.

The Senate voted to send the bill to the governor at the same time that a gunman opened fire on a grocery store in Boulder, Colorado and shot and killed 10 people, according to the New York Times. It’s now up to the governor to veto the bill and reject this effort to dismantle Iowa’s effective public safety laws. Reynolds has previously stated support for the state’s current background check and permitting laws, calling them “reasonable and responsible” and “good policy and the right thing to do.”

“The system in Iowa isn’t broken, so why would you sign this dangerous legislation into law?” said Iowa State Senate Minority Leader Senator Zach Wahls, District 37. “We know from other states that removing background checks does not work, and Governor Reynolds herself has in the past publicly stated her support for background checks, as they’re currently conducted in the state of Iowa. And so I’m calling on Governor Reynolds to veto this legislation.”

“What we have now is a very easy system that balances the rights of gun owners and safety to the public,” said Iowa State Representative Christina Bohannan, District 85. “I think that this is an extreme bill– the governor herself refused to support this back in 2019. The Governor said that the requirements to do background checks and have a permit were good policies and, “the right thing to do.” So, I call on her to hold true to those words, and not to adopt this extreme law.”

“After repeal of the background check law, Missouri’s firearm homicide rate increased by up to 27 percent; the firearm suicide rate also rose by 16 percent,” said Chief Isom, former St. Louis Metropolitan Police Chief and senior law enforcement adviser to Everytown for Gun Safety. “These were deaths that could have been prevented, and as a member of law enforcement, I opposed the repeal of Missouri’s comprehensive background check system because I knew the likely toll this move would entail. This is why Iowa law enforcement has not been supportive of this effort either.”

“The nation is reeling from recent mass shootings in Atlanta and Boulder — as well as the daily scourge of gun violence that doesn’t make national headlines,” said Erica Fletcher, a volunteer with Iowa Moms Demand Action, gun owner and twice-deployed Army veteran. “But rather than talking today about strengthening Iowa’s gun laws, we’re here talking about a measure that would repeal background checks — one of Iowa’s most basic, bedrock public safety laws. And one of the most popular policies in the country.”

More information on HF 756 is available here:

HF 756 would repeal Iowa’s background check requirement on unlicensed handgun sales and make it easy for felons, domestic abusers, and those prohibited based on mental illness to buy handguns in Iowa. Twenty-two states, including Iowa, and the District of Columbia have laws requiring a person to pass a criminal background check before buying a handgun from an unlicensed seller. State laws requiring background checks for all handgun sales are associated with lower firearm homicide rates, lower firearm suicide rates, and lower rates of firearm trafficking. When Missouri repealed its purchase permit law requiring background checks, the state experienced an up to 27 percent increase in its firearm homicide rate. Since 1998, nearly 15,000 firearm sales to prohibited purchasers have been denied in Iowa – including over 6,000 illegal sales to convicted felons and over 3,000 illegal sales to prohibited domestic abusers. 

The bill would also make it legal for people—including certain criminals—to carry hidden, loaded handguns in public in Iowa without a permit or safety training. In the vast majority of states, including Iowa, a person must acquire a permit in order to legally carry a concealed handgun in public. These laws ensure that certain core public safety standards are preserved when people carry concealed handguns in public places.

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