DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Gov. Kim Reynolds signed a bill Friday that will make handgun carry permits and background checks on unlicensed sales optional in Iowa.
As of July 1, people can buy handguns from private non-licensed sources such as websites, gun shows and individuals without a permit or background check. People also will be able to carry a gun into public places such as grocery stores and malls without prior safety training or a permit.
Reynolds said in a statement that the bill protects the Second Amendment rights of Iowa’s law-abiding citizens.
“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,” she said.
Democrats opposed the bill, calling it a dangerous reversal of commonsense safety measures that have helped keep Iowa safer than states that have lifted such restrictions.
“By caving to the gun lobby and extremists in the legislature, Gov. Reynolds has failed her constituents and made clear that she stands with the gun lobby over public safety,” said Erica Fletcher, a volunteer with Iowa Moms Demand Action, a gun safety advocacy group. “We’ve seen what happens when states weaken their gun laws, gun violence goes up and people die.”
Currently 22 states have laws that require background checks for all handgun sales at the point of sale and/or as part of a permit requirement, including Iowa for now. The remaining states, including Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri and Wisconsin, do not require background checks on all sales.
Reynolds, a Republican, has spoken in the past in support of Iowa’s current background checks and permits to carry handguns. However she has rarely vetoed measures supported by her GOP colleagues.
The bill passed the Iowa Senate with Republican votes only on March 22 at the same as a man was shooting customers at a Boulder, Colorado, grocery store. Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa, who bought the Ruger AR-556 he used six days before the attack, is facing murder charges.
It cleared the House with the backing of only one Democrat.
By ending the permit and background requirements, the state will no longer check to ensure a person obtaining a gun from a non-licensed seller or those carrying a gun aren’t disqualified from ownership due to past felonies or abuses. The bill also eliminates firearms training now required to obtain a gun permit.
The process for buying guns from federally licensed dealers doesn’t change and still requires background checks.
Republicans insisted the measure recognizes that keeping and bearing arms is a fundamental right for law-abiding citizens and that communities are safer when more people have guns to protect themselves.