DES MOINES, Iowa – The Iowa Senate on Monday afternoon adopted and passed 31 to 17 House versions of two gun bills that now head to Gov. Kim Reynolds’ desk.
One bill, HF 621 (SF 514), restricts liability in product liability cases involving firearm or ammunition manufacturers, distributors, or dealers. The second bill, HF 756 (SF 535), is a firearm omnibus bill with several provisions, including allowing the permitless carrying of firearms, also called constitutional carry.
State Senator Jason Schultz, R-Schleswig, managed both bills on the Senate floor during the debate that lasted well over an hour. The House bills replaced the Senate companion bills.
HF 621, in its statement of policy, reads, “The manufacture, distribution, or sale of firearms and ammunition by manufacturers, distributors, or dealers duly licensed by the appropriate federal and state authorities is a lawful activity and is not unreasonably dangerous, and the unlawful use of firearms and ammunition, rather than their lawful manufacture, distribution, or sale, is the proximate cause of injuries arising from their unlawful use.”
The bill states that a judge must dismiss a case and award “reasonable” attorney fees and costs if it is found that a plaintiff bringing a lawsuit is basing that action’s “theory of recovery” on the lawful design, manufacturer, marketing, or sale of a firearm or ammunition. Lawsuits against gun or ammunition manufacturers, distributors, or dealers can not be based on injuries caused by the unlawful use of a firearm or ammunition.
The legislation covers all firearm or ammunition manufacturers, importers, distributors, trade associations, sellers, or dealers.
Lawsuits based on the breach of contract or warranty, damage or harm caused by a defective firearm or ammunition, and injunctive relief to enforce a valid statute, rule, or ordinance are allowed under the bill.
Supporters of the bill state that it prevents backdoor attacks on the 2nd Amendment. Opponents say it provides the firearms industry with immunity not seen with other products, while supporters counter that other products and industries don’t typically see lawsuits based on the misuse of their product by a third party.
House File 756, a firearms omnibus bill, has several provisions.
Along with permitless carry, HF 756 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.
The increases the penalty when private sellers of firearms sell to people “they know or should reasonably know” are disqualified under state or federal law from owning and carrying a weapon. Those who do that can be charged with a Class D felony which, if convicted, could carry a sentence of up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $7500. Also, those convicted would be disqualified from owning a firearm.
Those who still obtain permits to carry or purchase a firearm undergo a background check. Anyone without a permit who purchases a firearm from a federally licensed dealer will submit to a background check every time they purchase a firearm.
State Senator Zach Wahls, D-Coralville, attempted to amend the bill unsuccessfully, his amendment would have required background checks for private sales and transfers of firearms.
HF 756 also invalidates the right to carry for persons under the influence of alcohol and drugs, persons in possession of illegal drugs, and for people in the commission of an indictable offense. These restrictions are added to other prohibitions already in state and federal law.
Listen to the debate on both bills: