Legalize Suppressors in Iowa

This week saw a flurry of activity in the Iowa Legislature. We’ve had some ups and downs, and in all of that activity it is sometimes difficult to follow what just happened, what happens next, and how we can do our part to keep pushing solid pro-gun owner legislation forward.

Right now there are two particular bills whose file numbers look very similar – SF425 and SF427. This can easily lead to more confusion.

With that said, here’s a couple of items of note that will (hopefully) clear up some confusion and make sure we’re all on the same track.

Week in Review

Tuesday the Senate debated and voted on a bill known as Senate File 427 (SF427). At that time this bill did nothing more than legalize suppressors. It passed 46 to 4. SF427 was sent to the Iowa House of Representatives for approval, and/or amending.

Senate File 425, the Omnibus Gun Bill, was not taken up by the Senate. It still remains eligible for debate and a vote, but despite all of your efforts and ours to get Senate leadership to listen, they’ve chosen to continue to ignore SF425.

Wednesday, with less than 24 hours notice the House made SF427 (legalizing suppressors only) a priority and scheduled it for a vote in the House Judiciary Committee, a requirement that had to be met by Friday’s legislative deadline commonly known as the Second Funnel.

The House Judiciary Committee took SF427, the suppressors only bill that the Senate passed, and decided to amend the bill and add in all of the language from the original Omnibus Gun Bill, with two slight variations (see below for more details on the two changes). These changes are a good faith attempt to address the concerns of a very small minority of Senators who have the power to hold up pro-gun owner legislation.

With the new amendment added, SF427 becomes, for all intents and purposes, the new Omnibus Gun Bill.

The House Judiciary Committee then passed SF427 which includes language from the original Omnibus Gun Bill, by a 19 to 2 vote. This nearly unanimous vote proves (yet again) that the Omnibus Gun Bill is something all parties can agree on. The only two votes against the new version of the Omnibus Gun Bill came from Representatives Marti Anderson and Jo Oldson, both of Des Moines.

Looking Forward

SF427 must be debated and voted in the full House of Representatives. The earliest this could happen is Monday, April 6th. Realistically though it may take a few days to get it scheduled, after all the House does have other issues and bills they must also attend to.

We expect SF427 to pass a full House vote. When it does it then goes back to the Senate.

It’s important to note the Senate leadership must then schedule the new Omnibus Gun Bill (SF427) for debate and a vote. Short of continuing to show Senate leadership that this bill has the overwhelming support of Iowans, there’s no way we can force this to the floor.

The other item worth noting is that SF427 is now eligible for debate and a vote at any point between now and the end of the legislative session. No more funnels, no more legislative deadlines save for one, when the final gavel drops at the end of the session.

Two Slight Variations Explained

When the House Judiciary Committee amended SF427 on Wednesday they included everything from the Original Omnibus Gun Bill with two exceptions. They tweaked the Permit to Acquire provision as well as the Gun Owner Privacy provision. Here’s the differences between the original and new versions:

Permit to Acquire – a Permit to Acquire would still be required for handgun purchases, and makes all Permits to Acquire valid for 5 years rather than current 1 year period. Previously this provision made the Permit to Acquire optional, and extended its validity from 1 to 5 years.

Gun owner privacy – previously the Omnibus Gun Bill was written so that no one could request your private information if you held a Permit to Carry. Under this amendment only individuals (not businesses or media outlets) would be allowed to ask the sheriff if a particular person holds a valid Permit to Carry (no other information will be made available). The individual making the request must also give a valid reason for why they want to know. The individual making the request must also provide the person in question’s name, and one of the following: date of birth, or phone number, or address. Once they do all this the individual making the request must also leave theirname and contact info for the sheriff’s office to keep on file. After all of this has been done the sheriff’s office is then only allowed a one word answer –Yes or No, the person in question has a valid Permit to Carry. If the permit holder in question starts being harassed in any way, they then have a right to go to the sheriff’s office and ask if anyone has been asking about their Permit to Carry. If they do that they will then be given the name and information of anyone that’s been asking about them and their permit.

What Can Be Done to Help

The situation has changed slightly, but ultimately end goal remains the same. We expect SF427 to pass the House with relative ease. The question is whether the Senate will take up this bill or not?

It’s impossible to say what the Senate leadership has in mind or what their intentions are. But whether you believe they’ll do the right thing and vote on SF427 or not we believe we’re obligated to try to get this bill the vote it deserves.

We’ve all put too much work into this, taken on to many foes, written too many emails, and made too many phone calls to just throw in the towel now.

Our focus remains on the Senate. Keep pushing this issue to the forefront. Send an email to your Senator, leave them a message through the Senate switchboard – 515-281-3371. Tell them: “We’re serious about the Omnibus Gun Bill getting a vote. The bill number doesn’t matter, let the legislative process work and give the Omnibus Gun Bill an honest vote.”

As always, keep your messages polite and professional. Our opponents are looking for any petty reason they can do deny us a fair shot at a vote. In a perfect world we wouldn’t have to deal with the frustration that comes along with their political gamesmanship. But the fact is we live a very imperfect world, and that means if we want our cause to be taken seriously we must be above reproach and operate in a respectful manner. Please keep this in mind as you’re interacting with your legislators.

Next week will bring new information about the path forward. Until then keep doing what you’re doing. Many Iowans, many legislators, and pretty much everyone in the media wrote off the Omnibus Gun Bill last week. But your passion, grit and hard work helped us revive it.

There’s still work to be done, and we need your continued support as we work to push this bill over the finish line.

Iowa Firearms Coalition is an entirely volunteer, grassroots, 2nd Amendment advocacy group. Responsible for bringing uniformity to Iowa’s Concealed Weapons Permitting process, IFC’s members work to protect and enhance 2nd 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 2nd Amendment issues in Iowa. You can support our work by becoming a member, or making a donation.