Countdown to Constitutional Carry
In just over one week Iowans will begin to benefit from the most significant single change in our state’s weapons laws in living memory. It will be even greater than the switch from a “may issue” to the current “shall issue” weapons permit system a decade ago. The repeal of the requirement for a Permit to Carry Weapons, effective on July 1, represents a complete shift in how Iowa law views the relationship between we, the people, and our government – at least in regards to the possession and carrying of defensive weapons.
For 100 years or so – and for just a few days more – Iowa law has essentially forbidden the possession and carrying of firearms and other deadly weapons, though with numerous exceptions. Those various exceptions include while outside of municipal limits, in the performance of law enforcement duties, when at one’s own residence or place of business, and, principally, while in possession of a valid Iowa Permit to Carry Weapons issued by a County Sheriff. To Iowa Firearms Coalition and a great percentage of Americans, this presumption of criminality without a government-issued permission slip is exactly backward. The Second Amendment is a guarantee that the government will recognize, respect, and protect our natural and fundamental right to keep and bear arms. It is the government that ought to be forced to show cause before restricting that right for any individual. The repeal of the permit requirement helps restore the proper relationship of the people to our government and thus has been termed “constitutional carry”. This proper recognition of the right now extends to twenty states besides Iowa.
From July 1, Iowa law will essentially provide that if a law-abiding adult is in lawful possession of any weapon (not only a firearm), he or she may carry it “on or about their person” or in a vehicle, either concealed or openly, without the need of a Permit to Carry Weapons. This reality may require considerable rethinking and a period of adjustment by citizens, officials, and law enforcement alike. Remember, however, that there is no change to the places where firearms or other weapons may not be possessed or carried, such as on the property of a public or private school or on most federal property.
As July 1 approaches, this is a good time to review the most important provisions of House File 756, the IFC and NRA-backed legislation that included Constitutional Carry.
Major Provisions Relating to Carrying Weapons:
- Repeals the requirement for the Iowa Permit to Carry Weapons – The permit will continue to be available to those who wish it. There are several important reasons for Iowans to obtain/renew the PCW and IFC strongly encourages them to do so. An Iowa PCW will:
- Allow for carrying a concealed firearm in more than thirty other states
- Allows a firearms dealer (FFL) to transfer a firearm immediately and without an additional background check through the National Instant Check System (NICS)
- Provides evidence of good character to a conscientious private firearms seller
- Perhaps most importantly, the Iowa PCW provides an exception to the federal felony of going armed with a firearm within 1,000’ of the property of any public or private school located in Iowa. (Gun Free School Zones Act – 18 USC § 922(q)(2)(A))
- Repeals the requirement for a Permit to Acquire Pistols and Revolvers (The PTA will remain available to those who wish it. Private transfers of handguns between residents of Iowa will no longer require a PTA. A purchase or transfer of any firearm from a dealer will continue to require a background check, which may be satisfied by showing a PTA, a PCW, or by successfully completing a check by the dealer through the National Instant Check System [NICS].)
- Prohibited Transfers of Firearms: It is a class “D” felony for a person to transfer, loan, or rent a firearm to another person if he “knows or reasonably should know” the other persons is intoxicated, is ineligible to possess dangerous weapons or is prohibited from possessing firearms under state or federal law. Iowa Code 724.16 (Existing federal law has a similar penalty.)
- Iowa Code 724.4 – Use of a dangerous weapon in the commission of a crime. A person who goes armed with a dangerous weapon on or about the person, and who uses the dangerous weapon in the commission of a crime, commits an aggravated misdemeanor, except as provided in section 708.8. (This new language contains only about 5% of the number of words of the statute it replaces, which includes many prohibitions and restrictions.)
- Iowa Code 724.4D Carrying of dangerous weapons —— duty to cooperate —— reasonable suspicion. [This is a new statute.] A person carrying a dangerous weapon whose behavior creates a reasonable suspicion that the person presents a danger to the person’s self or others shall cooperate with an investigating officer.
- 724.5 Availability of permit not to be construed as prohibition on unlicensed carrying of weapons.
The availability of a professional or nonprofessional permit to carry weapons under this chapter shall not be construed to impose a general prohibition on the otherwise lawful unlicensed carrying or transport, whether openly or concealed, of a dangerous weapon, including a loaded firearm. (This is the new statute that eliminates the requirement for a PCW.)
- 724.8B Persons ineligible to carry dangerous weapons. [This is a new statute.]
A person determined to be ineligible to receive a permit to carry weapons under section 724.8, subsection 2, 3, 4, 5, or 6, a person who illegally possesses a controlled substance included in chapter 124, subchapter II, or a person who is committing an indictable offense is prohibited from carrying dangerous weapons. Unless otherwise provided by law, a person who violates this section commits a serious misdemeanor.
- 724.4E Possession of dangerous weapons and loaded firearms by minors. [This is new.]
1. A minor who goes armed with a dangerous weapon concealed on or about the person commits a serious misdemeanor.
2. A minor who carries, transports, or possesses a loaded firearm of any kind within the limits of a city or knowingly carries or transports a pistol or revolver in a vehicle commits a serious misdemeanor.
3. A minor who goes armed with a dangerous weapon that directs an electric current impulse, wave, or beam that produces a high-voltage pulse designed to immobilize a person, whether concealed or not, commits a simple misdemeanor.
There are several other important provisions of HF756 that will become effective on July 1, including:
- Prohibiting landlords receiving public rent subsidies from discriminating against gun owners in residential leases.
- Clarification and expansion of which law enforcement officers may go armed on school property
- Improvements in the reporting of convictions to the background check database
- Technical correction to existing language regarding the restoration of offender’s rights
- Department of Public Safety is ordered to authorize additional organizations to certify trainers for the Permit to Carry Weapons
The adoption of Constitutional Carry gives us something extra to celebrate on Independence Day this year. IFC hopes that you enjoy a fun and safe holiday!
IFC Board Member & Lobbyist