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What They’re Saying: Iowa Lawmakers Fast-Tracking a Dangerous Bill to Repeal Background Checks on Handgun Sales

March 11, 2021

The Bill would also Repeal Iowa’s Permit Requirement for Carrying a Concealed Handgun in Public

This week, Iowa lawmakers are quickly advancing SF 535 and HF 756, legislation which would repeal Iowa’s background check requirement for unlicensed handgun sales and repeal Iowa’s concealed carry permit requirement. The House Public Safety committee and the Senate Judiciary committee each passed their version of the bill this week, and the bills are now eligible for full House and Senate votes. Policy experts, law enforcement, Moms Demand Action volunteers, and gun violence survivors across the state have been calling attention to the dangers of this bill, and word of this threat to public safety is getting around.  

See what Iowans and activists are saying about SF 535 and HF 756 here:

Polk County Sheriff Kevin Schneider, per a Facebook post

“I know that this is an emotional issue on all sides. But recognizing the awesome power held within the hands of a gun owner, common sense would suggest that this person be competent and trained to hold such power. At one time, that logic was bi-partisan and even supported by the NRA.

“It’s bad enough that my Deputies and law enforcement officers across the country face the threat of risky individuals having guns concealed or not. In 2020, 48 brave officers lost their lives in the line of duty to gun violence. But if this law passes, people will now have access to guns with the same convenience as buying a bottle of water – no questions asked.

Erica Fletcher, an Iowa Moms Demand Action volunteer, gun owner, and veteran, per KWWL: State lawmakers considering bill to allow purchases of guns without a permit in Iowa 

“’In states that have the loophole where you don’t need a background check to buy and handguns through unlicensed dealers that prohibited buyers such as domestic abusers, felons, and others seek out those markets,” Fletcher said.”

“Fletcher said she moved to the Hawkeye State from Missouri several years ago after that state passed a similar series of laws.

“’Part of why I would never move back to Missouri is their high rates of gun violence, and I am afraid Iowa will be facing the same fate,” Fletcher said. “If these laws are passed, our communities will be less safe.”

“Some Democrats spoke out against the bill during committee hearings on Tuesday and Wednesday, calling it a threat to public safety.”

Temple Hiatt, a gun violence survivor and Iowa Moms Demand Action volunteer, and Traci Kennedy, an Iowa Moms Demand Action volunteer, per the Sioux City Journal: Iowa lawmakers push ahead on easing gun restrictions

“Critics charged House Study Bill 254 was a “radical and dangerous” proposal that would threaten public safety by repealing Iowa’s law requiring background checks on handgun sales and Iowa’s law requiring a permit to carry a concealed handgun in public — current standards that have kept Iowa low in gun-violence statistics.

“‘If more guns make us safer, America would be the safest place in the world,” Temple Hiatt, an Army military police veteran of the Gulf War, told a Senate Judiciary subcommittee considering similar legislation. “I have been a gun owner and in no way did I feel burdened to get a permission slip. Falling back to the minimum federal background checks won’t make us safer. It will remove Iowa-specific laws regarding permitting on private gun sales and will create more unchecked loopholes.”

“‘This dismantles some of our most-critical public safety infrastructure and that will make it easier for felons, domestic abusers and those prohibited based on mental illness to buy handguns in Iowa,” said Traci Kennedy, a gun owner who testified at the Senate subcommittee.”

Rep. Beth Wessel-Kroeschell, D-Ames, per the Iowa Capital Dispatch: Bill to remove Iowa’s gun permit requirements advances quickly in House, Senate

“Rep. Beth Wessel-Kroeschell, D-Ames, presented a hypothetical at a House committee meeting. Under the bill, she reasoned, she would be able to buy a firearm from an unlicensed seller and never undergo a background check. Then, she could carry that loaded gun with her to restaurants, to stores, to work and to the state Capitol.

“Would you agree that, under this bill, I have not broken the law?” Wessel-Kroeschell asked Rep. Steven Holt, R-Denison.

“As hundred of thousands of law abiding citizens do every day in their right to keep and bear arms,” Holt said, “Correct.”

“But we don’t know if I’m a felon, a spousal abuser or a schizophrenic,” Wessel-Kroeschell concluded. “There’s been no background check.’”

Luke Entelis, counsel for Everytown for Gun Safety, per the Des Moines Register: Iowans would no longer need a permit to carry or buy guns under a GOP bill in the Legislature

“Removing the permit to acquire requirement, opponents argue, would essentially eliminate background checks for buying handguns anywhere other than from a federally licensed dealer. That’s because under current law, someone who buys a gun in a person-to-person sale, for instance, needs to undergo a background check in order to obtain their permit to acquire.

“Yes, the federal law would still be there and would require background checks when people walk into gun stores, but there’s a significant portion of the market that consists of people buying handguns from people who aren’t dealers,” said Luke Entelis, counsel for Everytown for Gun Safety, a national gun violence prevention organization.”

See additional coverage here:

More information on SF 535 / HF 756 (formerly SSB 1232 / HSB 254) is available here.

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