Legislation for “constitutional carry” – eliminating the permit requirement to carry handguns – is heading to Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds’ desk after H.F. 756 passed 30-17 in the Senate on Monday in a party-line vote.
The state’s Republican senators said permitless carry would expand Iowans’ Second Amendment rights by removing restrictive government regulations. Democrats argued the changes would make the state’s citizens less safe, The Gazette reported.
“This bill fundamentally changes the relationship between our state government and our citizens,” said Sen. Jason Schultz, a Republican from Schleswig. “Currently, whether we want to admit it or not, our system of permits is one of mistrust. That means you can exercise a fundamental right but you must prove yourself not guilty in advance.”
“That is not how America is supposed to work and I’m not happy with the way our federal government is moving right now. But I know it’s not the way Iowa works and we’re going to deal with that now,” he continued.
“After House File 756, the honest citizen is free from government intrusion in this aspect of their lives. Those who prove themselves not worthy through their own actions, however, will see their penalties increase. This is the proper role and work of government.”
Current laws in Iowa require citizens to get a permit to acquire and carry a handgun. The county sheriff must run a federal background check on the applicant before issuing a five-year permit. All individuals carrying a pistol must display a permit if law enforcement requests it.
Iowans purchasing a firearm from a federally licensed dealer would still need to pass a federal background check or provide a permit to carry, which can still be acquired under the legislation.
Critics of the bill said felons, domestic abusers and those with mental illnesses would be able to access guns more easily if the governor signs it into law.
“We don’t need to make it easier for bad guys to get guns,” said Sen. Rob Hogg, a Democrat from Cedar Rapids.
Also included in the legislation is language that prohibits private sellers from transferring a gun to someone they “know or reasonably should know that the other person is ineligible to possess dangerous weapons.”
If a private seller made such a transfer, the violation would be a Class D felony punishable with up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $7,500.
According to The Gazette, the governor is reportedly “excited” to sign the bill.