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Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action Respond After Iowa Senate Passes Extreme Legislation to Allow More Guns in Public Buildings and Punish Local Officials Who Act on Gun Safety

June 4, 2020

The Iowa chapter of Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action, both a part of Everytown for Gun Safety, today released the following statement after the Iowa Senate voted to advance HF 2502, legislation that would subject local elected officials to harsh punishments for taking action on gun violence and effectively force local government buildings to allow people to carry guns. The bill now moves to the Governor’s desk:

“Punitive preemption legislation is dangerous,” said Traci Kennedy, a volunteer with the Iowa chapter of Moms Demand Action. “At a time when Iowans are demanding leadership on not one but three crises – gun violence, racism, and coronavirus – lawmakers have instead prioritized gun lobby priorities over common-sense gun safety legislation. We have no choice but to hold them accountable in November. In the meantime, we urge Governor Reynolds to veto this dangerous legislation.”

“Iowa lawmakers have failed us again,” said Chloe Gayer, a volunteer leader with the Iowa chapter of Students Demand Action. “Just last weekend, two people were shot and killed during nights of protest in Iowa, including Italia Marie Kelly, who was leaving a protest against the disproportionate impact of shootings by police and police use of force on Black people in America. Days later the Iowa legislature passed legislation that would roll back our gun safety laws. Enough is enough – they didn’t do their jobs, so we’re going to hold them accountable in November.”

This session, the Iowa House refused to take up HF 2367, an extreme risk billdespite broad support from Iowans for extreme risk laws. A recent survey from Everytown found that voters in Iowa support stronger gun safety laws by a 3:1 margin and 75 percent of voters consider a candidate’s position on guns “very important” to their vote in 2020. 

Punitive preemption legislation, on the other hand, is not popular in Iowa. Already, several cities, counties, and law enforcement associations have opposed this legislation — including the Iowa State Sheriffs’ & Deputies’ Association, the Iowa Police Chief Association, the Iowa State Association of Counties, and the Iowa League of Cities. 

In February, Everytown for Gun Safety Action Fund and Victory Fund announced it would spend at least $60 million on the 2020 elections, including in races up and down the ballot in Iowa. As part of that investment, Everytown released two digital ads urging lawmakers to prioritize common-sense gun safety measures during the legislative session.

HF 2502 is dangerous legislation that would significantly broaden the state’s existing firearms preemption law, including by subjecting local officials who enact gun safety policies to the possibility of paying damages and attorneys fees; effectively forcing local government buildings to allow people to carry loaded handguns inside; and preventing localities from enacting ordinances requiring Iowans to store their firearms responsibly.

The Senate vote comes after the Des Moines Register reported that two people were shot and killed in Davenport— with two others shot and wounded — during protests on Sunday evening and Monday, which have highlighted the disproportionate impact of shootings by police and use of force on Black Americans. According to the Washington Post, 32 people have been fatally shot by on-duty police since 2015 in Iowa.  

In Iowa, there are an average of 270 gun deaths every year. Statistics about gun violence in Iowa are available here, and information on how Iowa’s gun laws compare to other states overall is available here.

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