Gov. Kim Reynolds signed a pair of bills Friday that deal with the requirements of the ownership and carrying of firearms as well as those who sell them.
The higher profile bill, House File 756, concerns whether Iowa gun owners and buyers need to have a permit to purchase and carry handguns in the state. The new law, which has been dubbed “permitless carry” or “constitutional carry” by supporters, passed the House, 60-37, on March 17 and the Senate, 31-17, on March 22.
In the statement from the governor’s office announcing the signing of that and five other bills, including the second gun legislation, HF 621, Reynolds said that the new provisions “protects the Second Amendment rights of Iowa’s law-abiding citizens while still preventing the sale of firearms to criminals and other dangerous individuals.”
“This law also takes greater steps to inform law enforcement about an individual’s mental illness helping ensure firearms don't end up in the wrong hands,” the governor continued. “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.”
HF 621 prohibits lawsuits against firearm merchants and manufacturers for the acts of those who use the weapons. The only allowed lawsuits under that new law would be if there would be a defective weapon or if there were a breach in a warranty or purchase contract.
However, law enforcement has some qualms over the new law. Bremer County Sheriff Dan Pickett wants to know what’s in the new law, and he also wishes to find out how it will be enforced.
“Many other sheriffs have the same concerns,” Pickett said. “I still have a feeling that there are a certain number of people who want to travel and still want to get permits, too.
“I’m 100% in favor of the Second Amendment rights. I think everybody should have the right to bear arms. I don’t know how (Reynolds is) proposing the mental health side of it, because unless they’re opening something up for us at this current time, if somebody is committed, that’s a HIPPA (Health Insurance Portability and Privacy Act) (provision), and we can’t find out unless we’ve transported somebody to a hospital, and they’ve actually had a hearing that they’ve participated, and had to go back or stay in the hospital for further treatment, outpatient, then they would be mentally adjudicated.”
He added that unless that happens, law enforcement would not know about the mental health status of an individual until they are able to investigate an incident or review a permit on file.
“They would still have their gun,” Pickett said. “We would know when we do our yearly check (on permits) to see if someone is mentally adjudicated, and then we could revoke or suspend their permit. There are ways they can clear and get beyond that.
“With this new legislation, they would be carrying, and we wouldn’t even know (of their status).”