The Iowa Senate has passed a bill that would remove the state ban on gun “silencers” which suppress the sound of a gunshot — but there’s intense partisan sniping about which party is to blame for blocking a series of other gun-related proposals senators had hoped to attach to the bill. Senate Democratic Leader Mike Gronstal of Council Bluffs pointed at Republicans.
“They…torpedoed the best opportunity to get some meaningful changes to the gun law,” Gronstal told reporters.
And Senate Republican Leader Bill Dix of Shell Rock blamed Democrats.
“It falls far short of what Iowans really expected us to accomplish here today,” Dix told reporters a few minutes later.
A Democratic senator had proposed making the permit for acquiring a handgun good for five years, rather than the current one-year limit. Senator Steve Sodders, a Democrat from State Center who’s also a Marshall County Deputy Sheriff, also proposed a statewide database of all the Iowans who have a permit to carry a concealed weapon and a uniform permit in all 99 counties for concealed weapons. Republicans successfully challenged Sodders’ wide-ranging amendment, so it was barred from being included in the bill.\
“And so I think they made a big mistake,” Sodders says. “I think they made a mistake for gun owners.”
Democrats then used the same procedural gambit to block Republican proposals from being added to the bill. Senator Rick Bertrand, a Republican from Sioux City, wanted to add a “stand your ground” proposal that removes the duty to retreat when threatened, a proposal advocates say helps shield gun owners from prosecution if they defend themselves or others.
“The big loser today was the grassroots gun owners of this state…They were told that this was going to be the year — bipartisan,” Bertrand said during senate debate. “…You know what they got? They got nothing.”
Gronstal, the Senate’s Democratic leader, noted Bertrand’s “stand your ground” proposal had already failed to win approval in the Republican-led House before previous legislative deadlines. Dix, the Senate’s Republican leader, told reporters Iowans want it.
“They believe, as I do, that they should be able to stand up and protect themelves, protect their property, protect their families when under attack and use their fire arm without the fear of being sued or losing their assets,” Dix said.
Gronstal said Democrats worked in “good faith” with law enforcement, gun rights advocates and key House Republicans for months to try to strike a balanced approach to changing Iowa’s gun laws, but it all fell apart Tuesday.
“This little chess match…went on on this issue today,” Gronstal says. “But I think who got left out were law-abiding gun owners and the citizens of Iowa.”
After more than five hours of mostly private meetings throughout the afternoon, the bill to merely get rid of the long-time ban on owning or selling gun silencers in Iowa passed the senate on a 46-4 vote. House members must now decide whether to accept that senate bill and send it to the governor for his signature.