Iowa governor signs sweeping expansion of gun rights

Iowa governor signs sweeping expansion of gun rights
Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad (R) on Thursday signed one of the most ambitious expansions of gun rights legislation passed in any state in recent years, giving gun owners the ability to defend themselves in public and preventing local governments from implementing their own rules.
 
The new law, House File 517, comes months after Republicans won back control of the Iowa state Senate, which had blocked earlier proposals when Democrats ran the chamber.
 
“After 7 years of hard work, House Republicans successfully passed a comprehensive bipartisan bill protecting Second Amendment Rights for Iowans,” the state House Republican caucus wrote in its weekly newsletter, before Branstad signed the bill. 
 
The law expands Iowa’s so-called stand your ground rules, which will now allow residents to defend themselves with force if they feel threatened. 
 
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“As parents, we’re deeply concerned about the effects the stand your ground portion of this law will have on our communities,” said Amber Gustafson, who heads the Iowa chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. “No matter what your position was on this bill, none of us wants to see the kind of homicide rate increase here that other states have seen after enacting stand your ground laws.”
 
The new law also allows those with concealed-carry permits to have firearms in the state capitol building, and it eliminates the power of the governor and other state officials to prohibit possession of a weapon in emergency situations.
 
City and county laws governing gun control will be pre-empted under the new state law, part of an emerging trend in gun legislation that allows residents to sue local governments for enacting gun-free zones.
 
The measure legalizes short-barreled shotguns and rifles. It permits children to use guns under adult supervision.
 
And it will reduce some criminal penalties someone carrying a weapon could face. The new law allows those with a concealed-weapon permit to show proof that they have a permit at a later date, changing an earlier law that made leaving the permit at home a misdemeanor.
 
Prosecutors will also face a higher bar in proving that someone with a weapon who commits a serious felony while in possession of a weapon intended to use the weapon during the commission of a crime.
 
Iowa is the latest state to loosen restrictions on gun ownership this year. New Hampshire and North Dakota, both states where Republicans control all levers of government, have passed new laws allowing someone to carry a concealed weapon without a permit. Arkansas and Wyoming have both expanded concealed-carry rights this year, too.
 
Nine gun rights bills have been signed by governors this year, according to a tally maintained by the National Rifle Association (NRA).
 
“In state legislatures across America, lawmakers are expanding law-abiding citizens’ constitutional right to self-protection,” NRA chief lobbyist Chris Cox said in a statement.
 
Gun control advocates had feared that the Iowa bill, while sweeping, could have gone further: An earlier version of the bill included a provision ending concealed-carry permits, which gun rights backers call “constitutional carry.” Another provision would have ended background check requirements.
 
The measure is likely one of the final actions Branstad will take before leaving his post to serve as President Trump’s ambassador to China. He spent several days in Washington earlier this month discussing his new posting with lawmakers and the State Department.