DES MOINES, Iowa – On Thursday, State Rep. Steve Holt, R-Denison, announced that Iowa House Republicans introduced a bill that would allow Iowans to carry firearms without a carry permit.
Permitless carry, also called constitutional carry, is one provision in a gun rights bill that is wider in scope. HSB 254 also allows EMTs assigned to a law enforcement tactical team to have a professional permit to carry. It will enable active and reserve law enforcement officers to carry on school grounds whether they are on or off duty. The bill expands handgun safety training. It also strengthens preemption laws to prevent municipalities from further regulating the carrying of firearms beyond what state law allows. The legislation also prevents landlords and government-assisted housing from banning firearms.
There are 18 states that have unrestricted or permitless carry according to the U.S. Concealed Carry Association (USCCA).
“Ever since I assumed office six years ago this has been a priority of mine and many other Republicans,” Holt said at the Second Amendment Rally hosted by the Iowa Firearms Coalition at the Iowa State Capitol.
“We did not get everything we wanted in this bill, and we never do. All of the progress we have made was not in one bill but in numerous pieces of legislation over a period of years. We must, and we will continue to fight for the Second amendment each and every year. We will come back every year, and we will work for more. We have made great progress. But we must continue to work for more. We will continue to push back against those who fear freedom more than they fear tyranny,” he added.
“I am truly excited that this year we may finally bring constitutional carry to the state of Iowa,” Holt concluded.
Gun rights activists made strives over the years, first changing the state’s law from may issue to shall issue to require county sheriffs to issue carry permits to Iowans lawfully allowed to have one. Before that, state law permitted county sheriffs to deny carry permits for any reason making obtaining a carry permit in some counties practically impossible.
Over the years, the Iowa Legislature passed “stand your ground” legislation. They removed the arbitrary age for parents to teach children about firearms. They passed a law to lengthened carry permit renewals to five years. The legislature also passed preemption legislation to prevent municipalities from restricting gun rights or targeting gun stores and gun ranges. This year, the Iowa Legislature passed for the second time a constitutional amendment to add Second Amendment language to Iowa’s Constitution and require courts to use strict scrutiny in cases where that right is infringed. That measure will go before voters in 2022.
The Second Amendment Rally included several speakers who addressed the audience in the crowded rotunda.
Dave Funk, president of the Iowa Firearms Coalition, shared that Iowa’s founders didn’t believe they needed the right to keep and bear arms in the Iowa Constitution because the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution enshrined and protected that right.
“But that was obviously before the Jim Crow era, the Sullivan law in New York, the National Firearms Act in 34, and overreaching federal government and state governments,” he said. “There are those that cannot grasp that each and every one of us has a God-given right to defend ourselves.”
Funk said there is no point arguing with people who cannot understand that and see a different perspective.
He told those gathered that they need to remind legislators that they represent Iowans, not rule over them.
Pete Brownell, CEO of Brownells, a supplier of firearm accessories, ammunition, and supplies based in Grinnell, and former president of the National Rifle Association, pointed to Iowa’s progress in protecting gun rights.
“Iowa is an example of what Second Amendment freedom should be in many other states,” he said.
“But we’ve got to remain vigilant, people, and aware of the efforts that are trying to erode our rights as individuals, both here in Iowa and across the nation,” Brownell added.
He also reminded gun owners that Iowa is one of only six states that does not protect the right to keep and bear arms in its constitution.
Scott Jones, the National Rifle Association’s Iowa State Director, then presented Iowa Firearms Coalition board member Richard Rogers a distinguished advocate award for his years of lobbying at the Capitol for gun rights.
“Over the years, he’s cultivated positive relationships around the state – the Second Amendment warriors and advocates. He spent countless hours helping others better understand arguments to effectively advance the Second Amendment issues. He is respected by all who take the time to get to know him, from high-ranking elected officials to the average advocate at a gun show,” he said.
Chris Lee, director of government relations – state affairs for NSSF, the firearm industry trade association, discussed the effort to pass tort reform legislation that prevents targeting firearm and ammo manufacturers, distributors, and dealers from lawsuits based on injuries caused by the unlawful use of a firearm or ammunition.
“Unfortunately, today, the Biden administration, it seems like every day is calling for the repeal of the protection of lawful commerce and arms act, saying that he wants to hold gun manufacturers accountable when their lawful products are used in unlawful ways. Because of that, we are working here in Iowa to pass bills in the House and Senate that would add state-level protections to Iowa law so that the firearm industry here is protected and can continue to grow,” he said.
State Rep. Jarad Klein, R-Keota, chair of the Iowa House Public Safety Committee, pointed out several bills Iowa House Democrats filed to restrict gun rights. He noted that stopping bad bills from seeing the light of day is one of his jobs.
He pointed out HF 65, sponsored by State Rep. Bruce Hunter, D-Des Moines, would give county sheriffs discretion over whether to issue a carry permit even if someone is legally allowed to have one. Another bill, HF 126, prohibits the carrying, transportation, and possession of firearms in the Capitol building and grounds. Then he pointed out HF 131, a bill that the sale or transfer of semi-automatic assault weapons.
“They don’t want even let us sell. We can’t buy. We can’t transfer. We can’t hand them to our children. This is ridiculous. They have no idea how they would even put this in place,” Klein said. “But this is a law they would pass if we are not in control.”
He then discussed HF 129, legislation that prohibits the sale, transfer, or possession of large-capacity ammunition feeding devices.
“If you have anything that has more than ten rounds in it, you’re going to be breaking the law if they have their way,” Klein explained.
“These are just a taste of the bills that will never see the light of day. As long as I’m chair of the Public Safety Committee, Representative Windschitl is Majority Leader, and Steve Holt is Chairman of Judiciary, these bills will never move,” he concluded.
After Klein spoke, other legislators were invited to speak and those present also heard from State Reps. Sandy Salmon, R-Janesville, and Dean Fisher, R-Montour, and State Senators Jeff Reichman, R-Montrose, and Jim Carlin, R-Sioux City.
Watch all the speeches below: