Iowa joins 18 other ‘constitutional carry’ states, says no permit needed to buy or carry handguns

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DES MOINES, IA – Governor Kim Reynolds (R-IA) signed House File 756 into law Friday eliminating a requirement that Iowans obtain a permit to acquire or carry handguns. Iowa joins 18 states with similar “constitutional carry” laws.

Governor Reynolds said the new law will protect the Second Amendment:

“Today I signed legislation that protects the 2nd Amendment rights of Iowa’s law-abiding citizens while still preventing the sale of firearms to criminals and other dangerous individuals.”

The Governor said the law will help protect law-abiding citizens:

“(The new law takes) greater steps to inform law enforcement about an individual’s mental illness helping ensure firearms don’t end up in the wrong hands.

“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.”

The law takes effect on July 1 and will give Iowans the right to purchase and carry concealed handguns without a permit issued by the Sheriff’s departments. The new law also shifts the burden of background checks from the purchaser to the gun dealers.

Current Iowa law requires anyone who wants to purchase or carry a firearm must receive a license from their county Sheriff’s office.

Before issuing the permit, the office must run a check on the applicant using the federal government’s database of persons excluded from owning firearms. If the person passes, they receive a permit valid for five years.

State Sen. Jason Schultz (R-Schleswig), H.F. 756’s floor manager, said the new law ends a flawed system:

“This bill fundamentally changes the relationship between the state government and our citizens. Currently, whether we want to admit it or not, our system of permits is one of mistrust. That means you can exercise a fundamental right, but you must prove yourself not guilty in advance.

“That is not how America is supposed to work and I’m not happy with the way our federal government is moving right now. But I know it’s not the way Iowa works and we’re going to deal with that now.

“After House File 756, the honest citizen is free from government intrusion in this aspect of their lives. Those who prove themselves not worthy through their own actions, however, will see their penalties increase. This is the proper role and word of government.”

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Support for the new law ran mostly along party lines, with Republicans supporting it and Democrats opposed. Democrats had called on Gov. Reynold to veto the law. Senate Minority Leader Zach Wahls (D-Coralville), said:

“A person could be able to purchase a firearm from a private seller with no background check and then carry that firearm anywhere in public without any type of firearms proficiency training if this bill is adopted.

“We must do more than just pray for those victims and their families, and we must do more to honor their memories than just fly the flags at half-staff. We have to do everything that we can to prevent this senseless violence in the future.”

Iowa Republican Party Chairman Jeff Kaufman expressed his support for the Governor signing the new bill into law in a tweet, saying the Democrats were spreading false information:

“Despite the misinformation pushed by Democrats and coastal interest groups, today is a great day for law-abiding gun owners of this state. (The law will) strengthening Second Amendment rights for law-abiding citizens of this state.”

In addition to allowing citizens to purchase and carry handguns without obtaining a permit, the new law also requires courts to report to a state law enforcement when someone is determined to be ineligible to possess a firearm for mental health reasons. This is in addition to the required federal background check.

The new law makes it a felony for any person to sell a firearm to a buyer they “know or reasonably should know” is not legally permitted to own one.

The new law allows off-duty law enforcement officers and reserve officers to carry guns on school property. Currently, only on-duty officers can do so.

The National Rifle Association was quick to praise the Governor for signing the bill:

“NRA applauds Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds for signing House File 756, NRA-backed legislation that allows law-abiding adults to carry a concealed firearm without first asking the government’s permission for a permit.”

The new law makes it optional for Iowans to obtain a permit to carry or a permit to acquire handguns. If they choose not to get a permit, citizens must pass a background check when buying a gun from a federally licensed dealer.

Many Iowans are expected to still apply for permits so they can carry their weapons out of state. In all, 36 states and territories, including Iowa, either recognize Iowa’s permits or do not require permits to carry firearms.

The Governor also signed a law Friday limiting the types of lawsuits that can be filed against gun and ammunition manufacturers. This law will prevent lawsuits related to the lawful design, manufacture, marketing, or sale of firearms and firearms accessories. The law does allow lawsuits to be brought in cases of breach of contract or where a gun or accessory was defective.

The other 18 states that allow constitutional carry are: Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wyoming.

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