The Iowa House has passed five gun-related bills, including one that would legalize suppressors or “silencers” in Iowa and another that would make the permits for concealed weapons confidential records.
Representative Matt Windschitl, a Republican from Missouri Valley, praised the gun rights advocates who were sitting in the House balcony, watching the debate.
“These are folks that are the NRA. This is the Iowa Firearms Coalition. These are Iowans that want us to be passing these bills, so let’s not shroud it with some ‘Big bad NRA is out there, trying to put guns in everybody’s hands,'” Windschitl said. “No, we’re out there advancing Second Amendment rights and allowing Iowans to have the freedoms that they rightfully deserve.”
All five bills passed easily, with the support of Republicans as well as some Democrats. The bill that drew the most criticism from Democrats would change Iowa law so children under the age of 14 will be allowed to handle pistols and revolvers — if a parent or firearms instructor is around. Representative Jake Highfill, a Republican from Johnston, said it’s about parental rights.
“Currently under Iowa Code you can shoot a long-run or a shotgun with your children at any age,” Highfill said. “…We’re bringing pistols and revolvers in line with long-guns and shotguns.”
Representative Liz Bennett, a Democrat from Cedar Rapids, jokingly suggested the bill must have the support of Trey Parker and Matt Stone, the co-creators of a long-running cartoon for adults.
“The thought of two-, three-, four-, five-, six-year-olds forming a militia with handguns is so absurd as to constitute an episode of ‘South Park’,” she said.
Bennett was among the 36 House members who voted against the bill. It easily passed, though, with the support of 62 members. Seventy-four House members voted for a bill that would legalize suppressors on guns. Representative Terry Baxter, a Republican from Garner, said you have to go through a federal background check and register the serial number if you buy a suppressor.
“A suppressor itself is not a weapon,” Baxter said. “It’s an accessory that’s put on a firearm just to cut down the noise…a hearing protection device.”
Another bill that easily passed the House would allow people to carry a gun on a snowmobile or an ATV. The House endorsed another gun-related proposal that would forbid the governor from ordering the confiscation of guns in a state of emergency or civil unrest. Representative Bruce Hunter, a Democrat from Des Moines, said an Iowa governor has never used this authority, but he or she might have to one day.
“We might not want to have people with loaded guns walking into the middle of a riot,” Hunter said.
Representative Greg Heartsill, a Republican from Columbia, said Iowans should have a constitutional right to keep and bear arms, regardless of the situation.
“This bill rightfully removes power from the hands of the government and puts it where it legitimately belongs — with the people,” Heartsill said.
The gun-related bill that got the support of all but one member of the House streamlines the process for getting a permit to carry a concealed weapon, plus it makes the application forms a confidential record, so personal information like addresses and phone numbers isn’t disclosed.