Iowa House panel removes age restrictions on handgun use, proposes lessening other gun restrictions

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DES MOINES — An Iowa House committee passed a barrage of gun-related bills Thursday, most of which were similar to proposals that have failed to win legislative approval in previous years.

The House Judiciary Committee dispatched bills to make possession and use of a firearm suppressor legal, limit the governor’s authority to restrict the use of guns and ammunition in declared emergencies and to allow children of any age to possess a handgun while under the supervision of a parent, guardian or firearms instructor.

All three bills passed easily, but not without questions about whether they improved the public safety and the definition of “well-regulated militia”

“We have lots and lots and lots of cases where children get hurt or hurt other people,” Rep. Marti Anderson, D-Des Moines, said in opposing House File 2042, which would allow children to lawfully use a handgun. “This leaves too much space for accidents and harm.”

Rep. Brian Meyer, D-Des Moines, wondered whether the change was “crucial to defending the Second Amendment?”

“In my family it is,” sponsor Rep. Matt Windschitl, R-Missouri Valley, said. “I think it is essential to let parents be able to make the decision of when their children are taught proper firearm safety so that they can freely exercise their constitutional rights.”

Windschitl said he’s not advocating that parents give a 3-year-old a gun, “but the parent should make the determination.”

The change, he added, would conform to state law regarding rifles and shotguns.

The bill was approved 17-4.

The suppressor bill, or what floor manager Rep. Terry Baxter, R-Garner, called a “hearing protection bill,” was approved 18-3.

Anderson opposed it on the ground the noise suppressor, commonly called a silencer, would muffle the sound of gunshots making it harder for people to know where the shots were coming from. Baxter said there have been no cases of suppressors being used in mass shootings, probably because they are highly regulated by federal law.

The committee also approved HF 2044 to deny the authority of the governor or other officials from prohibiting, regulating or curtailing the otherwise lawful possession of guns and ammunition during states of emergency.

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