Governor Terry Branstad today said he’s heard from “many” Iowans about the gun bill that got final legislative approval last week, including county attorneys concerned about “Stand your ground” provisions giving Iowans who use their guns to defend life or property new legal protections from lawsuits and criminal charges.
But Branstad met with legislators who crafted the bill and the governor indicated concerns that he raised were addressed.
“Obviously I try to look at and review everything before making a final decision,” Branstad said, “but, generally speaking, I think that the people that managed this bill were very careful in trying to craft something that they felt was reasonable and something that I could support.”
In December of 2015, Branstad said he was satisfied with Iowa’s gun laws and was not an advocate for changes. Today during his weekly news conference, Branstad said “issues and questions have come up” since then. The governor cited the five-year-long effort of a central Iowa family who want Iowa law changed so their daughters can target shoot with pistols. The bill would let children under the age of 14 handle pistols and revolvers, under a sober parent’s supervision.
“I want to commend the people that have managed this legislation,” Branstad told reporters. “…I’m a supporter of the Second Amendment. I’m going to carefully review it, but I think they’ve tried to build safeguards and reasonableness and fairness into the legislation.”
AUDIO of Branstad’s news conference, 27:00
Another section of the bill will allow the nearly quarter of a million Iowans with a concealed weapons permits to carry their guns into the state capitol.
“These are responsible, law-abiding citizens who want to have their rights protected,” Branstad said. “I don’t see anything wrong with that.”
And Branstad said he has “every confidence” the armed state troopers who patrol the capitol and surrounding buildings will be able to handle any situation. The governor, who has a security detail assigned to him wherever he goes, also praised the unarmed guards stationed at security checkpoints on the two public entrances to the statehouse. Branstad told reporters he feels “safe and secure” in the state capitol.
“I just want to make sure that the safety of the citizens of our state is protected and that people feel they have access to the capitol,” Branstad said, “and the rights of our citizens under the Second Amendment are also protected.”
Branstad did not address concerns raised about letting concealed guns into city halls and courthouses around the state. The bill gives Iowans the right to file lawsuits challenging “gun free” policies in government buildings. The Iowa Judicial Branch, the Iowa County Attorneys Association and the Iowa Judges Association are all opposed to the bill.
It’s unclear when an “official” copy of the bill will be sent from the legislature to Branstad for his review. After getting the official version of the bill, Branstad will have three days to sign or veto it.