July 24, 2014

Iowa House votes to legalize gun silencers

Winschitl

Representative Matt Windschitl.

The Iowa House has voted to get rid of the state law that bans the sale and possession of gun silencers. Representative Matt Windschitl, a Republican from Missouri Valley who is a gun smith, calls them “suppressors” and he said they can help preserve the hearing of gun owners who regularly fire off rounds at gun ranges.

“This is a good bill and I think it is a prime opportunity for us to expand a freedom and a liberty that Iowans deserve,” Windschitl said during today’s debate. “…Thirty-nine other states already allow their citizens to be able to possess these. I don’t think Iowans should be restricted from having them.”

The bill passed on an 82-16 vote. Critics like Democratic Representative Beth Wessel-Kroeshell of Ames say muffling the sound of gun shots is a bad idea.

“This legislation does not meet my litmus test for firearms legislation, that it provide more safety from gun violence in schools, theaters, malls or to the general public,” Wessel-Kroeshell said.

Representative Mary Mascher, a Democrat from Iowa City, also voted against the bill.

“By muffling the noise generated with every shot…a silencer would provide a new degree of intimacy for public mass murder,” Mascher said, “delaying by crucial seconds or minutes the moments when someone can call the police after overhearing strange bangs coming from a theater or classroom.”

Representative Windschitl responded:  “To insinuate that somehow allowing law-abiding citizens to have that attachment on the end of their firearm is going to create more violence or allow for other tragedies to happen because someone’s not hearing the shot as readily as what they would without a supressed weapon, I find that just ludicrous.”

Representative Ako Abdul-Samad, a Democrat from Des Moines who voted against the bill, said many residents in his inner city community live “in fear” because of the number of illegal guns on the streets and he worries silencers will make things worse.

“These young people are obtaining weapons and they’re obtaining weapons that are Glocks and they’re obtaining weapons that aren’t just little pea shooters or, you know, pellet guns,” Abdul-Samad said. “These are weapons that are killing individuals, not only in schools but in neighborhoods.”

Representative Chris Hagenow, a Republican from Windsor Heights who voted for the bill, calls it “common sense” legislation that addresses the rights of “law-abiding citizens…not the criminals.”

“It’s disappointing that we have to kind of resort to scare tactics and what seems like some of what we’ve devolved to in this debate,” Hagenow said.

The bill is not likely to come up for a vote in the Senate. The Democrat in charge of the Senate committee with jurisdiction over the bill does not intend to advance it.