House committee passes weapons bill
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In a busy legislative session, the Republican-controlled Iowa legislature has been fast-tracking several bills through committee to the House floor. Most recently, a bill addressing public carrying of weapons passed the House Judiciary Committee and is headed to the House Floor for debate.
Justin Holmes, assistant professor of political science, explained what exactly this bill would do.
“It essentially does away with the permit to carry process,” Holmes said. “The bill would more or less change it so that anyone who was qualified to purchase a gun would also be qualified to carry a concealed weapon with no additional permitting.”
The current law in Iowa requires an additional permit to carry a concealed weapon in public, apart from qualifying to buy a gun.
“The concern for a lot of folks is that there is some training before you are allowed to carry concealed,” Holmes said. “There are some public safety concerns about loosening those restrictions. This does raise a few concerns that we are not passing people through that minimum standard of qualification before they carry in public.”
The second major part to House Bill 133 would be the enactment of the so-called “stand your ground” law.
“In general, American gun laws are fairly permissive in when you can use deadly force,” Holmes said. “The standard in Iowa now is that if you are in your place of business or your home, if somebody threatens you with violence you can use deadly force to stop them.”
However, the “stand your ground” language would allow for this kind of defense outside of those areas, permitting the use of deadly force as a first action option, rather than as a last resort.
According to Holmes, there is major concern in regards to this.
“It undercuts any kind of investigation,” Holmes said. “People will try to invoke this where it doesn’t really apply. We don’t want people taking justice into their own hands.”
Another change would be that, with the new law, carry permits would be for life, instead of the required renewal process currently in place.
Cassidy Nulty, sophomore digital journalism and textile and apparel double major, expressed concern that if the law is passed, it will only encourage more violence.
“I think that with these types of laws passed, this kind of enables that kind of culture of violence,” Nulty said. “I don’t think people really understand in the heat of the moment what a gun can do. Just because you have a permit to carry, does not mean you are in the mental capacity of saying what is right in a certain situation.”
Tanner Strudthoff, sophomore political science major, had mixed feelings about the bill.
“Personally, I do come from a background of gun supporters, but I also think as a society that we can take steps in the right direction to limit certain people from getting guns,” Strudthoff said. “If you’re a law-abiding citizen, what is a stricter gun law going to do to affect you if you are obeying all the laws in the first place?”
According to Strudthoff, he is a supporter of the Second Amendment, but he feels that some gun laws are too lax.
“I am a supporter of the Second Amendment, but I do think that we can take a step in the right direction to make sure certain people don’t get guns, because some of the laws that we do have are letting people just get guns easy as can be,” Strudthoff said. “But I also think that criminals are going to get a gun whether there is a law or not. When have criminals ever obeyed the law?”
According to the Des Moines Register, the bill passed the Iowa House Judiciary Committee after the removal of a controversial provision that would prohibit the Board of Regents from implementing gun-free policies on college campuses.