Brad Zaun

The Iowa Senate has passed a bill that would extend legal protections to Iowans who shoot to kill in self-defense. Under that so-called “stand your ground” proposal, people in Iowa cannot be charged with a crime or sued if they shoot to protect themselves and their property not only in their own homes and businesses, but anywhere they are legally permitted to be.

“This bill, to me, is a huge step forward in restoring our Second Amendment rights,” said Senator Brad Zaun, a Republican from Urbandale.

Zaun and 32 other senators voted for the bill. Seventeen senators, including Democrat Pam Jochum of Dubuque, voted no.

“This bill goes too far,” Jochum said. “It is no longer balanced.”

The bill includes other gun-related measures. It would let Iowans carry a gun into the state capitol if they have a permit for a concealed weapon.

“Iowa is a right to carry state and I think our capitol should be a beacon of that,” said Senator Dan Dawson, a Republican from Council Bluffs.

Senator Janet Petersen, a Democrat from Des Moines, opposed getting rid of the ban on guns inside the capitol.

“How will we ensure the safety of thousands of Iowa schoolchildren who visit the beautiful state capitol building every year?” she asked.

The bill also would let children under the age of 14 handle pistols and handguns, if they’re being supervised by a parent. The Senate did tack on a requirement that the supervising parent should not be intoxicated. The Senate changes in the bill must be reviewed and approved by the House before the legislation may go to the governor.

During their late-afternoon debate, senators made passionate arguments for and against the overall bill. Petersen said “hudnreds of Iowans” are worried about their safety in a “troubled world.”

“For some Iowans, adding more guns to the mix provides a feeling of comfort. For some Iowans, adding more guns to the mix puts more fear in their hearts,” Petersen said. “…I believe this legislation will not make Iowa a safer place to live.”

Senator Jeff Edler, a Republican from State Center, said legislators “are answering” to Iowans who want this bill.

“As the father of five children, it is my right and a duty to teach my children firearms safety and protect my family from inherent dangers, no matter where we may be,” Edler said. “This bill finally allows parents across the state these opportunities.”

Last fall, Edler defeated a Democratic senator who gun rights advocates accused of blocking some of the major provisions of this bill.