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Iowa House OKs amended firearms bill

The Republican-run House made another attempt Wednesday at revamping and expanding Iowa's gun laws

DES MOINES — The Republican-run House made another attempt Wednesday at revamping and expanding Iowa’s gun laws. But the changes likely will not go far with majority Senate Democrats who previously passed a scaled-back measure to legalize firearms suppressors.

Rep. Matt Windschitl, R-Missouri Valley, called the House changes to the bill Senate File 427 an attempt to forge a “middle ground” compromise on expanding gun owners’ rights and an effort to “find the art of the possible in sending a good piece of legislation down to the governor” during Wednesday’s spirited floor debate.

“This is the best opportunity we have this session to advance Second Amendment rights,” said Windschitl in touting changes that would allow parents to teach gun safety to minors with no age restriction, create a restricted access database for verification of permits, legalize suppressors for Iowa gun owners and make permits to acquire valid for five years.

Windschitl said the amended bill — which passed on a 73-25 vote Wednesday — was designed to “give the Senate a second shot to do what is right.” but Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal, D-Council Bluffs, said majority House Republicans’ bill represented “their self-described compromise that wasn’t negotiated with anybody in this chamber.”

During debate, Rep. Marti Anderson, D-Des Moines, noted that Iowa ranks among the safest U.S. states for gun-related deaths but that could change it Iowa upsets the balance of public safety with the responsibilities and limitations that go with Second Amendment rights.

“I don’t think we need this bill. I don’t believe it makes Iowa safer,” said Anderson, a legislator who has worked professionally with crime victims in expressing concern about expanding access to “pistols and handguns” for children who view “everything as a toy.”

Rep. Art Staed, D-Cedar Rapids, argued that legalizing suppressors that muffle the noise of a firing weapon could endanger the lives of law enforcement officers, while Anderson said “suppressors give a murderer more time to kill” in opposing that provision of the revamped bill.

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Windschitl countered that 39 other U.S. states have legalized firearms suppressors and laws aren’t going to stop people who intend to commit a criminal act. He also told the bill’s opponents that government should not be restricting good parents from teaching their children gun safety based on the irresponsible actions of bad parents.

“It’s a constitutional right, and it’s a parental right,” he said. “Government has no business dictating to parents when they should be allowed to teach their children about their constitutional rights and about firearms safety.”

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