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Iowa gun laws poised for reform

State legislature trying to reach common ground for proposed changes

By Erich Pitcher & Christina Uptain
On March 2, 2018

Let’s face it- the most talked about issue right now is gun control and the mass shootings that have occurred in our country. 

In the wake of the recent Florida high school incident a few weeks ago, added to the other multiple fatality situations of recent past, many are calling for gun reform in several variations while others want to keep our laws the way they are. 

There is also criticism from both sides that neither wants to agree and preventing the bi-partisan effort that should be working together to protect our citizens as well as our rights.

There are many facets regarding gun ownership, from both a federal and state level so for sake of local relevance, the focus here is on proposed changes to Iowa gun laws under House Study Bill 133.

This bill addresses multiple points so in this expose’, the four major components relating to safety will be debated by one who would be viewed by the majority as conservative and the other liberal in an effort to gain perspective from both sides as well as look for some common ground to stand on in the best interest of protecting our citizens. 


Simply put, this is a self-defense clause that allows people who are armed to use deadly force if they feel they are in immediate and life-threatening danger.

CU: This provision seems to have good intentions, yet major safety concerns with it include variances from state to state (this is not a federal law) and the definition of “immediate and life-threatening danger.” 

If one wakes up to a burglar breaking into their home in the middle of the night and is caught off guard, it is understandably justified as a stand your ground situation (of course hoping that restraint is used whenever possible). 

The issue of safety comes in the form of those who may take a situation too literally or act too aggressively, thus opening a possibility of more gun violence for simple disagreements like a traffic scuffle. This also leads to civil disputes over wrongful death.


EP: This law is very essential because it provides implicitly written rules for when it is okay to use a LEGALLY purchased firearm as a line of self-defense. This is vital for gun owners and all citizens to understand. 

Also worth noting is this law does not apply to just firearms. It applies to anything you may have in your possession. If you are threatened and all you have is a mallet, you can legally use that as a form of self-defense.

Detractors of this law will say that it is too vague and is open to interpretation. I disagree with that statement. The law is clear, if one is in a life-threatening or situation where they can be physically harmed they no longer have to retreat. They can use force immediately to be out of the situation, which seems very cut and dry from here.


These are two separate pieces in the bill but are similar in concept so they are grouped here. The provisions would change to state that one may carry in the Capitol building and city, county or Iowa Board of Regents laws cannot impede rights to carry, including on campuses at all state universities.


CU: Alignment of common sense gun laws with more clear definitions and eliminating outdated or irrelevant provisions is welcomed by this journalist. 

As for carrying in the Capitol, with security measures already in place, it is unlikely an event would occur so there is not much of an argument against this piece. 

Allowing people to carry on university grounds is a strong topic of disagreement here, since it challenges safety due to difficulty in regulating and monitoring for opportunities to end in gun violence, often across large areas of land and between many buildings, structures and bodies. 


EP: Basically, this law mandates that firearms are banned from state or federal buildings on non-law enforcement individuals (i.e. civilians). This includes courthouses, police stations, etc. Also it includes all state/public universities and colleges. Currently private universities and colleges can decide if they wish to allow firearms. Many do not. 

Detractors of the second amendment have stated that with all the school shootings today that these laws should not be touched and many agree.

 If students want to feel safe there is no better way than two feet on the floor and one in the chamber. If I were in a school with an active shooter, I would like to know I have my life in my own hands and the option to make him an inactive shooter. In opening up this law, it would also eliminate colleges and universities being seen as viable mass shooting targets.


Current law prohibits those under 14 to use a handgun, even if under parental or instructor supervision. The proposed change would allow possession of a revolver or pistol by those under 21 if within the vocal and visual range of a parent or guardian who is at least 21 and assumes all legal liability.


CU: Both sides of the coin are quite evident for this proposal: on one hand, are children capable of understanding the severity of what possessing and using a hand gun can mean? On the other, why can law abiding adults not teach responsibility to their children? 

Many agree that responsibility can be taught early so why not with respect of firearms? 

Restrictions up to 21 seem a bit extreme, especially when one is mature enough at 18 to serve their country but cannot legally possess a handgun? 

Seems a bit hypocritical and while it’s true children may not fully understand on their own, with education from adults who are law abiding and accountable, disciplined children should grow into responsible and respectable adult firearm owners.


EP: Emotionally, where is someone at the age of 18 and before? Are they capable of handling the emotions that come with owning or possessing something that can harm and take life? What about teen angst and those going through puberty being in legal possession of guns? There is an age restriction to the military so the thought here is there should be for children owning and interacting with firearms.


Current law requires one to obtain a “permit to carry” that includes a federal background check prior to the purchase of a hand gun. This would be eliminated under the proposed changes.


CU: No, no and no… anything that would get rid of a background check when trying to purchase a fire arm is unacceptable. 

One typically goes through background checks for a variety of life needs that do not cause thousands of deaths each year, so no background check should be removed in the process to owning a handgun. 

Many believe the more attention paid, the better chance of someone who shouldn’t have a handgun being prohibited from obtaining one. 

The opposition says it removes a step that in the long run is not truly necessary, however concerns exist, especially in the realm of private sales. 

Enough loopholes already exist- let’s not allow more.

If safety is a primary concern, then gun purchases should not occur on good faith, as the change tries to convince will be sufficient.


EP: This journalist would like to state a personal staunch stance for the 2nd Amendment. However, the feeling of Pandora’s Box starts to rush over when talking about removing the permit to carry. 

This is what gives people the right to purchase a gun. 

If this law passes in its ambiguously written nature, there is no rule listed for safety courses. Nothing regarding waiting periods and are essentially allowing people to carry just because they want to buy. That is wrong. Safety training is necessary as well as the need to ensure these people are responsible enough to have their firearms on them at all times.  That is why this change would be the de-evolution of safe gun laws.

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