Overdue and commonsense gun reforms
House Study Bill 133 will offer some common-sense gun reforms to Iowa’s firearms and use of force laws that will allow Iowa to catch up to other states in individual gun rights. This bill combines many overdue proposals that have been proposed individually and have seen the Capitol floor before. HSB133 includes changes to concealed carry permitting, including uniform permitting from county to county, protecting the privacy of carry permit holders, and removing the need for a permit beyond the traditional background check to purchase a firearm. Iowans who are merely exercising their fundamental rights should demand a right to privacy. Names and addresses of gun owners have been exploited by newspapers before and when made public could put a careless target on permit holders. The carry permit extension comes at a time when other states are removing them all together, including New Hampshire this past week. This bill is a modest compromise to the proposals of HF147, which pushed for constitutional carry. Weapons safety courses would still be utilized to renew permits as required for people who wish to have their permits recognized in other states.
Short barreled weapons would be accessible but regulated by the strict standards of the National Firearms Act, just like suppressors (which are legal in Iowa) are currently regulated. HSB133 would also fix legal language in a few other areas, including escalating the penalty for illegal straw purchases to a felony. The bill would also allow parents to teach their children how to safely use firearms, including handguns to their children regardless of the child’s age while under direct supervision, something that is already legal in 49 other states.
Stand your ground as proposed would remove the duty to retreat from law-abiding citizens who are through no fault of their own placed in a situation where self-defense is necessary to protect themselves or others. The stand your ground improvement addresses when a victim’s life or safety is at risk in public areas, where it is required that you make an attempt to retreat or take an alternative course of action. The language would be added to the law to clarify that someone who is the victim of violence or someone who is aware of a violent felony in progress is justified to use deadly force to stop the act if it is agreeable that reasonable person would deem the response necessary. This law does not protect the actions of individuals who are committing a crime or escaping the scene of a crime. Stand your ground laws do not relieve individuals of their responsibility to make good decisions, but they do allow people to protect themselves in situations of imminent danger responsibly. Protecting the victim is paramount when it is the victim who will face the scrutiny of Monday morning quarterbacks who will debate their action in a calm setting in far greater time than they had to respond. Stand your ground recognizes that the right to self-defense extends beyond the home and is an essential liberty of free people.
These proposals are all current law in other states and are not testing any uncharted waters in firearm legislation. Iowa’s crime has continued a decreasing trend since the passage of shall-issue carry permits and suppressors, contrary to the warnings from firearm opponents who counter every enhancement to Iowa law by citing the need to balance public safety. Stand your ground is a deterrent to criminals who must recognize that their violent actions may be met with force. The overdue reforms proposed in HSB133 strengthen Iowa’s gun laws, redefine the law to favor victims, and enhance the individual liberty of all Iowans. Please contact your legislators and let them know that you want to see Iowa’s law side with victims and individual liberty.
• Derek Drayer is a member of the Iowa Firearms Coalition.