• IA Senate Democrats Change Bipartisan Gun Bills

    March 12, 2016

    Breaking down the recent Senate amendments

    The Senate Judiciary and Natural Resources committees recently approved the ATV Carry Act and Privacy Protection Act. These two bills, and the Hearing Protection Act, are now eligible for a vote before the full Senate. But there’s a very large asterisk next to the ATV Carry Act and the Privacy Protection Act. Both bills were passed out of committee with an amendment, and in both cases the amendments greatly undermine the original intent of the bills. Rather than drum up a bunch of incendiary rhetoric we’ll simply lay out the amendments, a few facts about the bills and why the Iowa Firearms Coalition opposes these measures. Then you can decide for yourself whether or not the Senate Democrats were right to start monkeying with these bills. We hope that this will help you as you contact your legislators about these bills, and help you convince your friends and family to do the same.

    CLICK HERE to send an email to your Senator telling them to VOTE NO on these amendments!

    ATV Carry Act

    This bill was designed to allow Iowans to carry their firearms on ATVs, snowmobiles, and other off-highway vehicles in the same way they are allowed to carry their firearms in cars, tractors, or motorcycles. Under current Iowa law you’re committing a crime if you carry a firearm on ATV, snowmobile, etc., in any way other than unloaded and in a case. Even if you have a valid Permit to Carry.

    House File 2283, the ATV Carry Act, passed the Iowa House of Representatives 78 to 20 on February 23rd. When the Senate Natural Resources Committee got a hold of it they promptly amended this bill. Their originally proposed amendment does the following:

    -Makes the bill only apply to pistols and revolvers (long guns must still be kept unloaded and cased)
    -Requires the use of a “retention holster” (but does not define what a retention holster is)
    -Removes a provision that allows landowners to carry on an ATV or snowmobile without a Permit to Carry, so long as they remain on property they own or possess
    -Inserts a prohibition on shooting from an ATV or snowmobile under any circumstances (the original House version prohibited shooting from the vehicles while “hunting or attempting to hunt”)

    In our testimony to the Senate Natural Resources subcommittee, IFC voiced strong opposition to these unnecessary changes to the House approved language of the bill. We were able to convince the subcommittee members to reinsert the provision allowing persons to carry unrestricted on their own property. This is a vital correction, as it is anticipated that rural landowners will be the primary beneficiaries of this legislative reform.

    When HF2283 came before the full Natural Resources Committee, Senator Ken Rozenboom (R-Oskaloosa), offered an amendment that effected the changes listed above, but with the corrective language regarding private property. In addition, Sen. Rozenboom included a provision that would allow Iowans to carry loaded and uncased long guns when operating their vehicles on land they own or possess. In making the case for this provision, the Senator used the example of a cattleman who might come upon a coyote attacking a calf and needing immediate access to his firearm. (IFC has not yet seen the language of this amendment, but we believe this explanation to be accurate.) The amendment was approved without objection by the full committee, which then approved the bill with only Sen. Bolkcom (D-Iowa City) voting in opposition.
    Though the amendment was improved in committee, it raises immediate questions: What constitutes a “retention holster?” Aren’t all holsters considered retention devices? They’re designed hold our weapon in a safe way, right? Who get’s to define what is and is not a “retention holster?” These are all valid questions that the Senate Democrats have left unanswered, and that’s a very big problem. Then there’s the fact that this amendment only applies to handguns.

    CLICK HERE to send an email to your Senator telling them to VOTE NO on these amendments!

    Privacy Protection Act

    This bill does a number of things, but most notably it makes it so that permit holders in Iowa can keep their private information (name, date of birth, address, etc.) private. Right now anyone can request the private information of all 250,000+ permit holders in Iowa. This is a problem when the media in Iowa collect all this information and publish or broadcast this information for no other reason than because they can. This bill, House File 2314, would curtail that, but it also cleans up and solidifies a handful of questionable provisions in Iowa’s Permit to Carry law that was passed in 2010.

    The amendment to this bill, passed by the Democrats on the Senate’s Judiciary Committee does the following:

    -Requires a proficiency test for all future Permit to Carry applicants (range test would be mandatory)
    -Eliminates the option of online training for a Permit to Carry
    -Institutes a “loser pays” system for permit denials & suspensions (if you’re denied a permit, appeal the ruling, and a judge rules in your favor your sheriff will have to pay your legal fees)

    There are several things to consider on this amendment. First off, the loser pays system is a provision that IFC supports. But outside of that the rest of this amendment leads to a lot of questions Senators would prefer you didn’t ask. Questions like: what other rights do we as Iowans enjoy that require a proficiency test? Do you need to pass a test to go to your place of worship? No. Do you need to pass a test before you can speak publicly? No. Do you need to prove your ability before you can go vote? Nope. Now, we might joke on occasion about ‘low information voters’ from time to time, but the fact is there’s no specific level proficiency you must prove before you can vote. Can you imagine the fit the Senate would throw if a bill was put forward requiring a proficiency test for voters? It would be epic. So considering all this ask yourself, why should your right to keep and bear arms be any different? Take it one step further and ask yourself when has a private citizen in Iowa ever been required by state law to pass a proficiency test to exercise their Second Amendment right? The answer is never.

    Fundamental issues with the proficiency tests aside, this amendment would severely limit Iowans’ ability to obtain quality instruction. This is because there is currently a very distinct shortage of public shooting areas in the State of Iowa, which means if this amendment were passed the only instructors that would be allowed to teach Permit to Carry classes would be those who have access to a range. In addition, this amendment blocks a citizen’s ability to take a classroom Permit to Carry class with one instructor and take a proficiency test at a range with a separate instructor. In short, this amendment would severely cut into Iowans’ gun safety training options. Make no mistake, the Iowa Firearms Coalition encourages in the strongest possible terms that all Iowans to seek out high quality firearms training. But private citizens should be free to seek out training as they see fit, not be forced into an arbitrary set of demands established by a handful of non-carrying, non-gun owning legislators.

    Don’t lose sight of the voting record on this bill either. On February 23rd, this bill sailed through the Iowa House of Representatives 97 to 1. Republicans, Democrats, urban legislators, rural legislators, everyone but one stick in the mud in the House voted for this bill. On top of that, the lone representative who voted no on this bill didn’t even feel strongly enough about it to get up and speak in opposition. Not a single word of opposition about this bill was spoken! So what’s changed between then and now? One thing, the bill now resides in the Senate chambers, and for some reason those in power in the Senate Judiciary Committee feel the need to meddle.

    As if that meddling was not bad enough, we’d like to remind you of one final fact. Iowa’s law enforcement groups have all registered in favor of this bill as written. The Iowa Police Chiefs Association, Iowa Peace Officers Association, Iowa State Sheriffs and Deputies Association, all of these organizations representing law enforcement all throughout our state have endorsed the bill as written. The men and women who are sworn to keep us safe believe in this bill, and yet for some reason the Senate Democrats seem to think know how to protect Iowans better that Iowa’s law enforcement officers…

    Draw your own conclusions about these amendments, but make sure you know the facts. And when you hear someone telling you these amendments “strengthen these bills” make sure they know the facts as well.

    CLICK HERE to send an email to your Senator telling them to VOTE NO on these amendments!

    Iowa Firearms Coalition is an entirely volunteer, grassroots, Second Amendment advocacy group. Responsible for bringing uniformity to Iowa’s Permit to Carry process, IFC’s members work to protect and enhance Second Amendment rights in Iowa. An affiliate of the National Rifle Association, the IFC actively seeks to foster and promote the shooting sports. Sign up for our email list for the latest on Second Amendment issues in Iowa. You can support our work by becoming a member, or making a donation.