Iowa gun safety advocates seek revisions

They want House bill scaled back or vetoed

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DES MOINES — Carletta Knox Seymour, a Cedar Rapids businesswoman who is president of the Iowans for Gun Safety board, said Monday her group is concerned that “human rights are being overlooked for gun rights” in legislation that would establish stand-your-ground immunity and, among other things, prevent local governments from enacting their own gun measures.

She said that House File 517, which passed the Iowa House, “overreaches” and should be drastically scaled back by the Iowa Senate.

Kids are going to die if we don’t do something about this bill

- Dr. Amy Shriver, pediatrician, Blank Children’s Clinic in Des Moines.

Opponents said of special concern is a provision that removes a gun owner’s duty to retreat if his or her life or property is threatened, pointing to research indicating gun homicides increased by 31 percent in other states after stand-your-ground legislation was enacted that potentially carries a racial bias.

“Black people are far too often perceived as threatening simple because they are black. Stand your ground gives legal sanction for racism,” the Rev. Erin Gingrich of the First Unitarian Church in Des Moines told a Statehouse news conference. “We must not legislate evil.”

Along with calls to reject the stand-your-ground provision, gun safety advocates are opposed to parts of the bill that prevent local governments from banning weapons in public places and pre-empt other local restrictions and that allow children to possess a handgun while under direct supervision of a parent or guardian. They also advocated yearly criminal history checks for anyone seeking a permit to acquire and carry a firearm.

“Kids are going to die if we don’t do something about this bill,” said Dr. Amy Shriver, a pediatrician at the Blank Children’s Clinic in Des Moines.

Sen. Dan Dawson, R-Council Bluffs, the Senate floor manager of the gun bill, said Monday he expects the Senate will make primarily technical revisions to HF 517 and send it make to the House for consideration during floor debate that could take place Tuesday or Wednesday. He did not envision any changes advocated by Iowans for Gun Safety being adopted.

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