Out-of-staters may soon be able to legally carry a concealed gun in Iowa.  The Iowa House and Senate have given final legislative approval to a bill which sets new, statewide standards for issuing gun permits, replacing the current system which gives county sheriffs wide latitude to decide who can and cannot get a gun permit. 

The bill also makes it legal for someone who’s in Iowa, but doesn’t live here, to carry a concealed weapon if they have obtained a concealed weapon permit for that gun from in another state.  Representative Mary Mascher, a Democrat from Iowa City, suggested that’s a “formula for disaster.”

“We don’t have any say in whether those states have requirements that are as stringent as ours and yet we would recognize those permits and say they are perfectly O.K., we would accept them, we would think they are all right,” Mascher said during House debate.  “I have a problem with that have with that.”

According to Mascher, some states have a “much more liberal policy” when it comes to granting permits to carry a concealed weapon. “That’s bothersome to me,” Mascher said. “We don’t have the ability to vet each and every one of those individuals and so we don’t know whether those states have (conducted) the background checks.”

Representative Bruce Hunter, a Democrat from Des Moines, was even more adamant. “There are more holes in this…than you can shoot a howitzer through,” Hunter said.  “…This is not better than what we have now.  This is worse than what we have now.”

Hunter was in the minority, though, and the bill passed the House by an overwhelming 80 to 15 vote.  Representative Clel Baudler, a Republican from Greenfield, wore an N.R.A. tie and N.R.A. lapel pin to send the subtle signal that the National Rifle Association supports the bill.

“I understand the passion of the people that don’t believe in this bill.  I understand the passion of the people that think it doesn’t go far enough,” said Baudler.  “But I can assure…many, many people across this state or nation believe it’s a really, really good compromise.”

Baudler and others say the current system is a hodge-podge, with sheriffs in different counties using different standards for issuing permits to carry a concealed weapon. “A lot’s been said about the constitution of the United States and the constitution of Iowa.  What it requires is equal protection and treatment under the law,” Baudler said.  “What we have today is not equal protection and/or treatment under the law, depending on where you live.”

Baudler is a retired state trooper who carries a concealed weapon. “A new report published by MSNBC shows that more guns in the hands of law-abiding citizens result in fewer deaths from the use of fire arms,” Baudler said to close out House debate on the issue.  “I think that’s very important.”

A few N.R.A. members were at the statehouse today to lobby for the bill and most of them wore orange stickers that read “Guns Save Lives.” 

Late this afternoon the Iowa Senate reviewed House changes in the legislation and approved the final version of the bill on a 38 to four vote.  It now goes to Governor Culver, who has not indicated whether he supports or opposes a new, statewide standard for issuing gun permits.