DES MOINES, Iowa – The Iowa Senate on Wednesday passed HF 2502, a bill that prevents local governments from passing ordinances or policies restricting Iowans from lawful possession of their firearms by a 32 to 17 party-line vote.

HF 2502 passed in the Iowa House late February by a 52 to 44 party-line vote.

The bill does five things:

First, the bill forbids county zoning commissions, county boards of supervisors, city zoning commissions, or city councils to impose regulations and restrictions on a person seeking to build or improve a shooting range more stringent than state law. 

Second, while state law already forbids cities and counties from passing ordinances that regulate the ownership, possession, transfer, transportation, registration, and licensing of firearms when lawful under state law. HF 2502 expands the language in the law to cover any policy beyond ordinances, as well as includes the modification of firearms in the list of things local government can’t regulate when lawful under state law. Also, the bill expands state law not just to include firearms, but also add firearm attachments and other weapons to the language in the Iowa Code.

Third, HF 2502 requires city and counties to provide armed security should they declare their buildings to be gun-free zones. 

Fourth, the bill prevents cities and counties from regulating the storage of weapons and ammunition and makes any ordinance or policy enforced in cities or counties void by July 1, 2020.

Fifth, HF 2502 states that any judicial branch order forbidding firearms in a county courthouse or joint-use facility is unenforceable except courtrooms, court offices, or buildings exclusively used by the judicial branch.

State Senator Zach Wahls, D-Coralville, introduced an amendment requiring an equal amount of de-escalation training for police along with firearms training on an initial and annual basis. The amendment is a response to protests over police brutality in Iowa and nationwide following the death of George Floyd, a black man who died after a Minneapolis Police officer pinned his next to the ground with his knee for nine minutes.

“The amendment is not meant to be a solution to the entire problem, but instead to simply acknowledge the need for change and an emphasis that de-escalation should be just as important and receive just as much attention and energy as a firearm,” he said.

“Just last night here in Des Moines, we saw de-escalation techniques used to maintain peace and order more effectively than many of the escalation tactics that have made these protests more damaging, not less, and the same kind of escalation that ended the life of George Floyd,” Wahls added.

The amendment was found out of order. 

State Senator Jason Schultz, R-Schleswig, the floor manager for the bill, explained why it was necessary.

“The state legislature has deemed it their prerogative to set firearms policy in the state of Iowa for 30 years. Despite that, there have been municipalities and counties who have tried to work their way around the language in code, so it keeps getting a little more focused and a little bit broader,” he said.

The Des Moines City Council, last summer, tabled a proposed gun control ordinance that would restrict high-capacity magazines and trigger activators if it had passed. This bill would ensure ordinances like these are not enacted.

The bill now heads to Gov. Kim Reynolds for her signature.

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