Gun deaths surge in Iowa ahead of loosened handgun restrictions
Gun-related deaths have surged in Iowa just ahead of the implementation of a new gun law that will loosen restrictions on firearm use in the state.
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) signed a bill into law in April that will allow Iowans to purchase and carry handguns without a permit. That law will go into effect Thursday.
According to The Associated Press, gun-related deaths in Iowa have reached record numbers in 2020 with 353 residents dying from gunshot wounds. Of those shooting deaths, 263 were suicides and 85 were homicides, an Iowa Department of Public Health spokeswoman told the AP on Tuesday.
The influx in gun deaths last year marks a 23 percent increase from Iowa’s 287 high in 2019, the news outlet noted.
Daniel Webster, director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Violence Prevention and Policy, told the AP that Iowa’s new handgun deregulation will serve to make those numbers worse, noting that studies have shown that similar changes in other places have led to a 25 percent or higher increase in homicides.
“The direction Iowa is heading here based upon our research to me is very concerning,” Webster said. “It sounds like a train wreck.”
Under the new law, Iowans do not have to get a gun permit or undergo safety training before carrying a gun into public places, including grocery stores and malls. They will still be required to pass a federal background check if they are purchasing from gun retailers, but not if they purchase from private sellers.
“We will never be able to outlaw or prevent every single bad actor from getting a gun, but what we can do is ensure law-abiding citizens have full access to their constitutional rights while keeping Iowans safe,” Reynolds said of the law in April.
The group Iowa Gun Owners, which pressured Reynolds to sign the bill, called it “a monumental advancement in Second Amendment freedom for law abiding Iowans who are sick of being tracked, traced, and registered like criminals, just to carry a gun.”