Iowa Moves Toward Permitless Carry Despite Recent Mass Shootings

The permitless carry bill that passed the House of Representatives last week has made it one step closer to becoming law, putting Iowans in greater danger of becoming subject to the growing problem of gun violence. 

Despite the recent mass shootings in Atlanta, Georgia and Boulder, Colorado, the permitless carry legislation is now headed to Governor Reynolds for her signature or veto.  

Monday afternoon, the Senate adopted and passed the House version of the bill by 31-17. The House version had been amended on the floor, so the Senate took that version.

The argument lasted less time in the Senate, even after Democratic Sen. Zach Wahls proposed an amendment that would reinstate mandatory background checks. That amendment failed 18-30.

Democrats emphasized law enforcement and the majority of Iowans who support background checks in their opposing comments.

“One of the things I guess that jumps out at me is how we’re running so counter to what the people of Iowa want,” said Sen. Tony Bisignano. “We’re forgetting majority in this country.”

He pointed out that background checks and permits to carry are both popular policies, both with upwards of 80 percent support in polls.

Sen. Jason Schultz talked about the NICs background check system and why it isn’t the deterrent Democratic senators say it is.

He argued basically that the people who get background checks and permits aren’t the ones who commit crimes, which is why background checks and the permits shouldn’t be required.

“[Bad guys] are buying them from thieves, they’re not even buying them from honest private citizens,” he said. “But now we’re going to make sure that if somebody is in the business of doing that, they’re going to go away. We have debated the merits of trusting law-abiding citizens and punishing lawbreakers. This bill does just that.”

One provision of the bill is that if someone sells to a person they should know, or reasonably know, isn’t allowed to own firearms, that seller is convicted of a felony.

Schultz cited “More Guns, Less Crime,” a book written by John R. Lott Jr. in 2005. In it, Lott conducted a statistical analysis of crime rates at the county level across the country. He concluded that crime rates decrease when states pass “shall issue” concealed carry legislation, but his analysis has been called into question a few times since the book was published.

Schultz also addressed the law enforcement concerns by claiming that cities, particularly those with Democratic officials, are trying to quash gun ownership and punish firearms manufacturers.

A consistent Republican line has been that citizens shouldn’t be required to have a “permission slip” from the government in order to exercise their rights.

“I don’t have any faith in large city law enforcement administration doing other than what toes the political line,” he said. “The protections in the constitution are to make sure we don’t have to live under the discretion of people like that.”

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