Iowa Senate Chamber. Photo credit: iowasenaterepublicans.com.

As we reported last month, the GOP-controlled Iowa House had passed an omnibus firearms bill that would have done everything from legalizing silencers, created data privacy protections for firearms owners, and streamlined permitting and purchasing regulations. Procedural maneuvering in the Democrat-controlled Iowa Senate, however, has stripped out pretty much everything from the bill — styled Senate File 427 — except the provision that legalizes silencers and mandates the chief law enforcement sign off on the NFA application as long as the applicant “is not prohibited by law from making or transferring a firearm suppressor” . . .

According to The Des Moines Register, the bill was apparently gutted when a question was raised about whether an amendment offered by Senator Steve Sodders, a Democrat, was “germane.” According to Sodders, his amendment “would have addressed several areas the National Rifle Association, the Iowa Firearms Coalition, law enforcement groups and legislators have been working on since prior to the start of the 2015 session.” Senate President Pam Jochum (also a Democrat), ruled the amendment was not germane, which more or less left everything except the silencer provision on the cutting room floor.

Senate Minority Leader Bill Dix, a Republican, criticized the Senate’s actions.

“I think what we passed today was a good step, but it clearly falls short of what Iowans expect us to do in protecting law-abiding citizens’ gun rights,” Dix said. “What I hear from Iowans more than anything is that they want their legal rights to carry permit to be protected and to be confidential. They believe, as I do, that they should be able to stand up and protect themselves and their families and their property, and to use their firearm without the fear of being sued or losing their assets.”

In my judgment, Dix is right. The silencer legalization, while certainly a good thing in and of itself, pales in comparision to the significance of the data privacy provision. Currently, licenses to carry a concealed firearm are considered public records in Iowa. As Senator Sodder himself remarked earlier, it’s nobody’s business if he has a gun in his house. It’s also nobody’s business whether or not I’m licensed to carry one.

Meanwhile the Iowa House has made the passage of the firearms bill a priority, according to the Iowa Firearms Coalition. The House Judiciary Committee took Senate File 427, and amended it to include…well, pretty much all of the stuff that the Senate took out of the original House Bill. The only exceptions included a concession to keep the requirement that Iowans obtain a “permit to acquire” for handgun purchases, and a change to the data privacy provision that was so dear to my heart.

Under the original House bill, no private requests for data concerning identities of persons who had an Iowa permit to carry would be fulfilled. Under the revised bill:

individuals (not businesses or media outlets) would be allowed to ask the sheriff if a particular person holds a valid Permit to Carry (no other information will be made available). The individual making the request must also give a valid reason for why they want to know, [and] provide the person in question’s name, and one of the following: date of birth, or phone number, or address…. [The] individual making the request must also leave their name and contact info for the sheriff’s office to keep on file….

If the permit holder in question starts being harassed in any way, they then have a right to go to the sheriff’s office and ask if anyone has been asking about their Permit to Carry. If they do that they will then be given the name and information of anyone that’s been asking about them and their permit.

While I certainly respect the efforts of organizations like the Iowa Firearms Coalition and politicians in the House who have been working to pass a good bill, I can’t help but feel a little uncomfortable at this change. It’s better than what they have right now, I suppose, but why should my neighbors have the right to obtain this information about me from the government without my consent in the first place?

Legalizing silencers is a good step forward. But it would be nice to see the Iowa legislature passes a strong data privacy measure in the near future. As long as the government is going to insist on issuing licenses for the exercise of our civil rights, the least it could do is protect the privacy of its citizens while doing so.

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10 Responses to Iowa House, Senate Wrangle Over Gun Bill

  1. How ironic that the party that claims to be for personal privacy is anything but.

    So, you want to know if I have a gun? I demand a full log of your internet searches.

    The Boston Bombers learned how to build a pressure-cooker bomb from something (the Islamist extremest magazine ‘Inspire’) they found on the internet.

    If you’re not doing anything wrong, you have nothing to worry about…

  2. My local Representative actually had high hopes of this passing. But he’s a R. Oh well……..maybe next session.

  3. As long as the Democrats hold that narrow majority in the Senate we’ll have to take our gruel and thank our overlords.

    Personally I have no desire to purchase a suppressor since I almost never have the range to myself anyway.

  4. Again, the enemy of progress is perfection. There is enough good material in this bill that it’s worthwhile to fight for it.

    There’s a lot to push for in the future, but this is he best, and most widely supported, change to Iowan’s 2nd Amendment rights since shall issue was passed.

    Don’t let the desire for more keep you from contacting your Senator and asking them to re-pass SF427 once the House bounces it back to them.

  5. Iowans need to remember which party is AGAINST they’re freedom and infringing on they’re rights come the next elections. Democrats have more times than not shown a perversion towards attacking our 2nd Amendment Rights, as long as they keep getting voted in, this will continue to be the case.

    • I’m not about to argue the anti-freedom agenda of the Democratic party, however in fairness it was a Democratic controlled house, senate and governor who passed the ‘shall issue’ weapons carry permits here, and Iowa has one of the best carry laws around, IMHO. There is a huge difference between an Iowa Democrat and a New Jersey or Massachusetts Democrat when it comes to gun rights (most other rights not so much). This is why the NRA endorses some Democrats, since they advocate for one issue and one only it doesn’t make sense to support only one party.

    • As a rule of thumb,republicans will be better on the 2nd amendment question, but not always. democrats from rural areas usually get it. Big city liberals, democrats or republicans usually don’t.

  6. [The] individual making the request must also leave their name and contact info for the sheriff’s office to keep on file

    Buy stocks in businesses selling filing cabinets. This whole scheme seems to be geared to expand the bureaucracy.

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