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Iowa police could be fined $50K for enforcing federal gun laws under legislative proposal
The proposed ‘Second Amendment Preservation Act’ is based on a Missouri law that has faced legal hurdles, opposition from police chiefs
DES MOINES — Local governments or law enforcement officers who enforce federal gun regulations that exceed Iowa’s rules would be subject to $50,000 fines under a legislative proposal advanced Wednesday by Iowa Senate Republicans.
The proposal, which Senate Republicans have titled the Second Amendment Preservation Act, would nullify any federal gun regulations that exceed Iowa state law. The legislation is similar in spirit to resolutions passed by several Iowa counties declaring themselves so-called “sanctuary counties” from federal gun laws.
The state bill, Senate File 2002, was introduced by Sen. Zach Nunn, a Republican from Altoona and an officer in the Iowa National Guard.
“Our Second Amendment in and of itself is sanctuary,” Nunn said Wednesday during a subcommittee hearing. “There should be no law that crosses that line.”
The proposal is based on similar legislation that was passed in Missouri in 2021. The Missouri law has faced legal challenges, including from the federal justice department, and most recently a group that represents nearly 60 Missouri police chiefs has asked for changes to that state’s law.
Organizations representing Iowa law enforcement so far have registered as neutral on the bill, and none spoke at the subcommittee hearing.
“This is a dangerous bill,” Traci Kennedy, with the gun safety advocacy group Iowa Moms Demand Action, said during the hearing. “It would make it illegal for any public officer or law enforcement to assist with enforcement of federal gun laws that help keep our communities and state safe.”
Nunn said Jasper County was the first in Iowa to declare itself a sanctuary county from federal gun laws. He cited recent orders from federal agencies as examples of why his proposed legislation is needed.
“Drafting this bill I took no pleasure in identifying there could come a time when a fed regulatory authority could enforce on the state something that is protected by the (U.S.) Constitution,” Nunn said. “(The bill) is a clear indication to the federal government that their overreach in Iowa will not be tolerated.”
Kelly Meyers, a lobbyist for the Iowa County Attorneys Association, said county attorneys have expressed concern the legislation would make it difficult for law enforcement to enforce laws that are designed to protect victims of domestic violence.
Sen. Jeff Reichman, R-Montrose, who is shepherding the bill through the legislative process, said he is willing to amend it to address those types of concerns. He said the subcommittee hearing was the first time he had heard that specific concern.
“And that is a great concern,” said Reichman, adding that he was going from the subcommittee on this bill to one on domestic violence. “We’ve had, I think, four deaths I know of in recent history in my county, and three of them have been domestics. So that’s a great concern to me and obviously want to make sure that point is addressed.”
With its passage out of subcommittee, the bill is eligible for consideration by the Senate Judiciary Committee.
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