Mike Gronstal

Mike Gronstal

The top Democrat at the statehouse says a wide-ranging bill that’s eligible for debate in the senate needs “additional work” before senators would consider making changes in the state’s gun laws.

“There are people in law enforcement that have suggested they see some things that could be significant improvements in our current law,” says Senate Democratic Leader Mike Gronstal of Council Bluffs.

Gronstal says establishing a uniform license for permits to carry a concealed weapon seems most likely, along with a move to create a statewide database of permit holders.

“So that law enforcement in Pottawattamie County would know something from Scott County and would be able to make that uniform. Also, that if somebody was stopped, they could quickly ascertain whether or not that person did have a legal permit,” Gronstal says. “So I think there are some law enforcement people working on whether they can come up with some compromise on that piece of legislation, but all of that is a work in progress at the moment.”

Gronstal says another bill that would simply get rid of the state’s ban on “silencers” which suppress the sound of a gunshot likely could pass the Senate. The House on March 10 passed a bill that dealt with suppressors and concealed weapons permits as well as a collection of other gun-related issues. Critics are calling for senators to shelve that bill because one section of it would essentially do away with Iowa’s three-day waiting period for the purchase of a handgun. Gronstal isn’t addressing that specific concern, but he offers this: “I think it’s unlikely we will consider the House bill.”

Gronstal says senators are, instead, working on rewriting their own bill.

Representative Matt Windschitl, a Republican from Missouri Valley, is a gun rights advocate who argues there’s no three-day waiting period in Iowa for the purchase of “long” guns, like rifles and shotguns, so there’s no reason to have it for handguns. In 2010 the legislature made significant changes that made it easier for Iowans to acquire a permit to carry a concealed weapon. Thousands of Iowans applied for and got a permit, which lasts for five years. That means tens of thousands of those permits will come up for renewal in 2016 and Windschitl says legislators should at least take steps to make the renewal process smoother.

“And make sure the sheriffs were having the training requirements in the legislation they felt were necessary for public safety and, at the same time, making sure we weren’t being too stringent or restrictive on Iowans exercising their Second Amendment rights,” Windschitl says.

Windschitl is a trained gunsmith who works at his family’s gun shop in Missouri Valley. He is also employed by the Union Pacific Railroad as a switchman.