Updated (Original 4/24/19): DES MOINES, Iowa – Gov. Kim Reynolds signed SF 188, a bill that prohibits Iowa’s public universities and community colleges from barring students, faculty, and campus visitors from carrying stun guns on campus. The bill includes an exemption for stadiums and hospitals at Regent Universities. She signed the bill without comment on Wednesday afternoon.
The new law still allows schools to prohibit the carrying of projectile devices, like tasers, on campus, and only applies to one-to-one, non-projectile devices.
The Iowa Senate passed the final version of the bill on April 22, after both chambers passed different versions of the bill in March, by a 38 to 11 vote and the Iowa House passed the bill 64 to 34 on April 23rd.
Republican State Rep. Matt Windschitl from Missouri Valley who floor managed the bill pointed out in the debate over the original bill back in March that the Iowa Legislature approved Iowans who are at least 18-years-old to carry non-projectile self-defense devices. He said the bill was offered in response to an increase in sexual assaults at the University of Iowa and Iowa State University.
He noted that it would give women, in particular, a choice to have another tool that could help them flee if ever attacked.
State Rep. Lindsay James, D-Dubuque, offered an amendment to the bill that would strike out the original language. She said the legislature should study a comprehensive approach to campus sexual assault and upon the study’s findings appropriate money to address the issue.
Windschitl encouraged the House to vote down the amendment as the problem is already known and that the bill just provides another tool to women who want the ability to defend themselves.
James’ amendment lost by a 47 to 52 vote.
State Rep. Phyllis Thede, D-Bettendorf, offered an amendment that required public universities and community colleges to provide a written policy regarding the transportation and carrying of stun guns on campus. She said schools should retain the right to determine the best policy for their campus.
State Rep. Mary Mascher, D-Iowa City, offered an amendment to Thede’s amendment that would ban stun guns from campus child care centers, hospitals and medical clinics, and sporting events. She argued that stun guns do not belong in child care centers and with the consumption of alcohol, stun guns at sporting events are a bad idea.
Mascher’s amendment to Thede’s amendment passed by a voice vote, but the overall amendment lost 47 to 52.
Mascher also offered another amendment that prohibited convicted felons from carrying a stun gun on campus, this amendment passed 99 to 0.
Democrat State Reps. Liz Bennett, Wes Breckenridge, Tracy Ehlert, John Forbes, Chris Hall, Charlie McConkey, Kristen Running-Marquart, Kristin Sunde, and Mary Lynn Wolfe joined Republicans voting in favor of the original bill.
Republican State Reps. Brian Lohse and Andy McKean joined Democrats in opposition of the original bill.
Windschitl blasted Democrats who opposed the bill in a released statement after the floor debate.
“It is incredibly disappointing that many House Democrats voted against a bipartisan, measure to keep students safe. Assaults on college campuses are a serious problem and we should be empowering students with ways to protect themselves. This legislation is a step in the right direction to stop assaults and sexual violence on our campuses,” he said.