capitolA Republican-dominated panel at the statehouse last week approved another gun rights bill, part of a package of legislation backed by the Iowa Firearms Coalition.

A bill to make weapons permits confidential will now be considered by the full House Judiciary Committee. Missouri Valley Republican Matt Windschitl says it’s a matter of privacy for gun owners.

“As many of you know, anyone can walk into any sheriff’s office right now and request any information on any permittee,” Windschitl said. “They can get all the information, including their home address other information that’s on that form.” Windschitl says those individuals who get a permit-holder’s personal information from the sheriff could then go after the gun owner.

“If they’re going on vacation, they could maybe break into the home and steal their guns. Or, for the folks who don’t have a permit, the conclusion could be drawn that they don’t have a weapon in their home and they could be the targeted by someone with nefarious intent, to break into their homes and rob them,” Windschitl said. “Keep in mind, we’re talking about a constitutional right here. We’re talking about the right to keep and bear arms.”

In some states, Windschitl notes entire lists of weapons permit holders have been published online, exposing gun owners, and violating their right to bear arms. Critics of the bill include the Iowa Newspaper Association, which argues weapons permits are public records.

Other opponents of the bill say the public should be able to keep an eye on the local governments issuing the permits. A similar measure passed the Iowa House three times last year, but died in the Democratic-controlled Senate.

(Reporting by Joyce Russell, Iowa Public Radio)