Photo credit: Sarah Brooks

Iowa State Capitol December 2014On Tuesday the Iowa House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly, 75 to 24, in favor HF 527 which lifts the state’s ban on firearm suppressors.  The bill authored and floor managed by State Representative Matt Windschitl (R-Missouri Valley) now goes the Iowa Senate where it is attached to a similar bill – SF 425 which was passed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday on a 10 to 3 vote.

Currently Iowans knowingly possessing one commits a class “D” felony which is punishable by up to five years in prison or a fine of $750 to $7500.  Suppressors are defined as “a mechanical device specifically constructed and designed so that when attached to a firearm silences, muffles or suppresses the sound when fired that is considered a ‘firearm silencer’ or ‘firearm muffler’ as defined in 18 U.S.C. §921.”

HF 527 also outlines the process which suppressor owners specifying that county sheriffs can not deny certification unless the individual is prohibited by law from making or transferring a suppressor or is in a proceeding which could lead to that.  The sheriff has 30 days to issue the certification within 30 days of notification or provide a written notification of denial with the reason why the certification was denied.  Those denied can appeal in district court and if found to be denied improperly will be issued certification with court costs and attorney fees awarded.

The bill also prohibits county sheriffs from requiring access to the owners private premises as a condition of the certification.

The bill also provides for law enforcement officers to verify electronically, if possible, a person’s permit to carry.  The law also requires those who have permits to carry them on their immediate possession while carrying.  It provides for law enforcement officers to verify electronically if possible the validity of a person’s carry permit.  Those who fail to produce a carry permit or does not have it in their immediate possession commit a simple misdemeanor whose penalty is a $10 scheduled fine.

The bill also would allow certified peace officers with a professional permit to carry on school grounds even if they are not on school grounds as part of their official duties.  HF 527 also extends from 12 to 24 months the amount of time a new permit holder has to receive small arms training upon issuance of their carry permit unless they can demonstrate they have satisfied that requirement beforehand.  The bill also loosens training requirements for those who apply to renew their 5-year carry permit.

The Republican Party of Iowa Chair Jeff Kaufmann commended House members for passing the 2nd Amendment friendly legislation.  “This bill sends a strong signal that our legislature is serious about expanding and protecting Second Amendment rights here in Iowa,” Kaufmann said in a released statement.  He took time to thank Windschitl, the National Rifle Association, Iowa Firearms Coalition along with other groups for working on the bill.

Kaufmann took an unusual step as RPI chair to rebuke a group he said is undeservedly taking credit.  “I also want to address the Iowa Gun Owners, an organization whose leadership has consistently stood in the way of good gun legislation in the name of unattainable purity,” Kaufmann said.  “It appears they are attempting to take some credit for this bill’s passage through the House, but I assure you that this couldn’t be further from the truth. The leadership of the Iowa Gun Owners, and their Director Aaron Dorr, have little standing in the State House, have marginalized themselves with all but a few supporters, and have no right to claim any part of future victories for the Second Amendment.”

Iowa Gun Owners, who identifies themselves as “Iowa’s only no-compromise lobby” has criticized groups and legislators in the past who have voted on bills that were short of being a constitutional carry bill which allows for the legal carrying of firearms without a government permit.  Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Vermont and Wyoming are the only states to have enact a full constitutional carry law.  The group also supports “Stand Your Ground” legislation.

The NRA and Iowa Firearms Coalition were instrumental in seeing a uniform “Shall Issue” law pass in 2010 that eliminated Iowa’s “May Issue” Permit to Carry system that gun rights activists said was unfairly discriminating against many of Iowa’s gun owners.

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