Opinion | Governor Reynolds handgun law puts Iowans in danger

Law HF756 allows for optional permits and background checks on handgun sales in Iowa makes Iowans vulnerable to gun violence


Gary Coronado/Los Angeles Times/TNS

Shasta County Supervisor Patrick Jones, 52, at his gun shop in Redding on Thursday, Jan. 7, 2021. Jones, newly elected, unlocked the doors to the supervisors’ chambers to hold an unauthorized in-person meeting to protest statewide COVID-19 restrictions.

Sophia Meador, Opinions Columnist

Imagine that you just turned 16 years old and can finally drive. According to Iowa law, all are eligible to drive independently at 16. You start the engine and hit the open road for the first time, but you don’t have a license or any background in driving a motorized vehicle. It’s clear to say, this is not a safe scenario.

Thankfully, all legal drivers in Iowa must have an additional license and a driving test equivalency. Like driver’s licenses, some states require permits for legal weapons, because they prove that you’re not a danger to the public. But in Iowa, you don’t need any certification to have a handgun.

Iowa Law HF 756 was passed in early April and went into effect on July 1. According to HF 756, Iowans can purchase unlicensed handguns without providing a permit or background checks. This includes buying handguns online, at gun shows, or from unlicensed dealers.

This law also allows Iowans to carry handguns in public places such as movie theaters, grocery stores, restaurants, and malls without holding a gun permit or having prior gun safety training.

Gov. Kim Reynolds defended the law in a statement that, “we will never be able to outlaw or prevent every single bad actor from getting a gun, but what we can do is ensure law-abiding citizens have full access to their constitutional rights while keeping Iowans safe.”

Despite Reynolds’ defense, this law completely contradicts itself. Let’s dissect the Governor’s reasoning for this unwarranted law.

Preventing “bad actors”

In defense of Reynolds’ statement, it is true that we cannot stop every “bad actor” from getting a gun. In reality, there are numerous ways to illegally obtain a gun. Yet, the question remains: why make it easier for “bad actors” to obtain a gun?

Declaring “nothing can be done” to prevent dangerous individuals from obtaining a gun is in complete contradiction of the law itself. While people can still get guns in illegal forms, Iowa should be doing its job to prevent these individuals from getting their hands on deadly weapons.

Rather than making it easier, Iowa should enforce gun permits and strict background checks on both licensed and unlicensed dealers. This includes de-incentivizing unlicensed dealers from selling handguns from permit-less carriers with fines and legal ramifications.

In this way, we would outlaw “bad actors” from getting handguns and would prevent —to our best ability — the sale of unauthorized weapons.

Full access to constitutional rights

According to Reynolds’ statement, this law gives “law-abiding” citizens full access to their constitutional rights. The second amendment grants the people the right to keep and bear arms, with the exception of felons, anyone under 21, and adjudicated delinquents, of course.

Before this law was passed, did law-abiding citizens not have full access to firearms? Like driving a car, authorization is necessary to prove you are not posing a danger to yourself or others. Buying a handgun should have the same requirements.

Proving you are capable of carrying a gun safely does not infringe upon your second amendment; it proves you are not a danger to the people–it ensures their right to safety and freedom.

Keeping Iowans Safe

Whether Reynolds or the Iowa GOP believe this is anyone’s best guess. But the fact is, this law does not keep Iowans “safe.” Granting free access to handguns without permitting the individual to prove competency of carrying a deadly weapon is not a prevention of violence. Allowing all personnel to carry handguns without knowledge of gun safety poses a detrimental effect on public well-being.

As Iowa saw during the pandemic, the governor tends to think Iowa is the exception – an exception to mask mandates, in person learning, open public areas, and vaccine passports. The governor thinks because Iowa is a small, Midwestern state, we are immune to danger.

But we are not an exception; Iowa is not immune to danger and not immune to gun violence. In fact, an average of 270 Iowans die from gun violence each year. This next election, we need to seek a governor and Iowa legislature that will ensure competency in protecting Iowans.

Columns reflect the opinions of the authors and are not necessarily those of the Editorial Board, The Daily Iowan, or other organizations in which the author may be involved.


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