Local law enforcement consider gun law bills 'on target'
Two similar bills, House File 527 and Senate File 425, would revise Iowa gun laws and are currently being considered by lawmakers. House File 527 passed the House 75-24, while Senate File 425 is still being considered by the Senate.
The bills concern permits to carry and to acquire, suppressors, firearms training, a searchable database of permits, and parental supervision of children 14 and under using a pistol. Both the Iowa State Police Association and Iowa Peace Officer Association support the bills.
According to Spencer Police Chief Mark Warburton and Clay County Sheriff Randy Krukow, the bills would have a positive impact for local law enforcement.
"It would allow law enforcement to check an electronic database to verify if a person has a valid permit," Warburton explained. "Right now we don't have access to that information in a timely manner. ... That is a major issue we have here at the department verifying those permits that are issued outside of Clay County. That will be the biggest benefit we will see."
"A database of gun permits is a tremendous asset to us," Krukow said. "We would be able to sort out those situations much faster where we have someone with a gun who says they have a permit, but it is just not with them."
Should one of the bills be passed and enacted, both provide that persons with permits to carry must carry those permits with them when they carry their weapon or face a scheduled violation. The bills would also make permits to acquire optional since permits to carry qualify as a permit to acquire.
"For the majority, we have not had any problems with the permit process," Krukow said. "People take it seriously, they get the training that is required and they are respectful to law enforcement."
"With the permit changes, these bills would also strengthen the firearms training requirement of the law," Warburton said. "People would have to receive the training at least 24 months prior to applying for a permit versus anytime prior to applying. This will make sure people are up-to-date with their training making it safer for everyone."
According to Krukow, there are a couple misconceptions about the two bills and the impact they will have on Iowa gun laws.
"These bills do not eliminate background checks and they do not do away with the three-day waiting period," Krukow explained. "... We currently have background checks and we will continue to have background checks. That is very important. It is also important to have local jurisdiction when it comes to issuing permits because you are likely to know more information on the person as to why they shouldn't have a gun, like if they are mentally incompetent or have been charged with domestic abuse. Electronic filing has helped us keep track of such information at the county level."
Children ages 14 and under would also be allowed to handle a pistol under the supervision of a parent or guardian under the bills as well.
"In Iowa currently, children 14 and under can use shotguns and rifles with parental supervision, so I think this bill would just make the law more consistent extending that to handguns," Warburton said. "I have a 14-year-old son and I would like it if it were up to me and my discretion to decide when he can handle or it is safe for him to use a pistol with my supervision. Same safety protocols like hunter safety for rifles and shotguns would also apply to pistols."
The Clay County sheriff agreed with the Spencer police chief on the matter.
"As long as there is parental supervision, I don't see any difference than the current rifle and shotgun law," Krukow said. "People for the majority are responsible and those parents who aren't will be taken to court."