Controversial bill would remove requirement to have a permit to a buy gun in Iowa

Background checks would still be required to buy from licensed dealers
Published: Mar. 2, 2021 at 6:45 PM CST
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) -A bill removing gun permit requirements in Iowa advanced in the Iowa House this week.

House Study Bill 254 won’t change much for people who go to buy a gun from a store or licensed dealer; you’ll still face the federally required background check. That’s why one gun shop owner we spoke with says he believes people are overreacting to the bill.

“Right now you’d have to go buy a $30 permit and go through a background check to say here you already knew this, but now the government’s officially saying you can own a gun. Well why should you pay $25 to get a permit to be able to buy a gun when we can just make a phone call,” Ernie Traugh, owner of Cedar Valley Outfitters, said.

Permits and background checks would not be required for private sales done between individuals, however, selling to someone not allowed to have a gun is a federal crime. This bill makes doing so a class D felony, punishable by up to 5 years in prison.

“I think in fact this will probably increase the likelihood of background checks and decrease those private sales. Because unless you know that person really, really, really well, it better go to the federally licensed firearms dealer so that background check can be done,” State Rep. Steven Holt said.

Still, gun control advocates say removing permits takes out a safeguard to keep guns out of the wrong hands.

“Prohibited buyers such as felons, and domestic abusers seek out that market where they can obtain a handgun without a permit, we know this will happen,” Erica Fletcher, a volunteer leader with Iowa Mom’s Demand Action, said.

Proponents of the bill counter that criminals are already finding illegal ways to get guns, so a permit is meaningless.

“The people who are worried about whether you have a permit in your pocket or not, thinking that it makes you morally a better person or not, that’s crazy. That’s like saying every driver is a great driver because they have a driver’s license,” Traugh said.

Lawmakers said by removing the permit requirement, they’re helping law-abiding citizens trying to legally buy a gun within their rights.

“What second amendment advocates would say, and I agree with them, is that we should not have to go get a permission slip to practice a basic fundamental right,” Holt said.

Those against the bill believe fewer restrictions could lead to more gun violence in our state.

“I left Missouri partially because of the high rates of gun violence and now my lawmakers are trying to make Iowa the next Missouri,” Fletcher said.

The bill doesn’t only impact permit requirements, it also lets law officers carry guns on school grounds whether they’re on or off duty and it prevents managers of Section 8 housing from banning tenants from having guns on the property.

You can take a look at the full bill here.

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