Editorial: New gun law creates loophole


Opinion Editor Caleb Weingarten discusses why more conversation on the “gun issue” is more needed than ever. 

Editorial Board

People are now allowed to buy and carry handguns in Iowa without a permit, creating a dangerous loophole as of April 2 per a law signed by Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds.

Previously in 2018 and 2019, Reynolds said Iowa had “reasonable and responsible gun laws on the books.” However, she has changed her tune with this new legislation by changing some of the most “common sense” aspects of Iowa’s gun laws.

Here’s how HF 756 can present issues and concerns: 

It all comes down to permits and background checks. The new law makes it optional for Iowans to obtain a permit to carry or a permit to acquire handguns. 

The most potentially dangerous part comes with private sales. The law makes it so that Iowans will no longer have to obtain a permit before acquiring a handgun through sales between private citizens.

Currently, under Iowa and federal law, there are no background checks for private handgun sales at the point of sale. But Iowa’s current law requires handgun buyers to first obtain a permit to acquire or a permit to carry, which requires them to pass a background check.

The current permitting process ensures people purchasing handguns in private sales have at least undergone some sort of background check in the past when they got their permit. The new law eliminates that safeguard by making permits optional, meaning potentially dangerous people could purchase firearms in private sales legally.

Senate Minority Leader Zach Wahls stated the “cumulative effect” of HF 756 would be “to make it possible for someone to buy a weapon from a private seller without a background check and carry it anywhere without any training on how to safely operate the gun.”

Other opponents of HF 756 have said the change would make it easy for felons, domestic abusers and those prohibited based on mental illness to buy handguns in Iowa.

“We don’t need to make it easier for bad guys to get guns,” Sen. Rob Hogg said.

We as the Iowa State Daily Editorial agree with the sentiments that this is a dangerous loophole. We think anyone who owns or carries a gun should have a proper background check to ensure they should legally be allowed to own a gun as well as they should have proper training with how to use a firearm so they do not accidentally harm themselves or others.

The Second Amendment protects people’s right to bear arms and that should never be taken away; however, background checks and permits help protect the public from those who would either intentionally or unintentionally do harm to others with those firearms.

We have discussed our main issue with this law, but there are some good aspects of HF 756.

First, it doesn’t completely remove the idea of permits from Iowa. A person wishing to purchase a handgun from a federally licensed dealer can still get and use a permit; however, if they choose not to get a permit, they must pass a background check.

Second, the law requires courts to report to a state law enforcement database when someone is determined to be ineligible to possess a firearm for mental health reasons, in addition to reporting that information to the federal background check system. The law also expands what Iowa reports to the federal background check system about people who are ineligible to possess firearms under state law. These new required reports will help keep firearms away from potentially dangerous individuals.

Finally, the law creates a new felony when it comes to gun sellers.

If a seller were to sell, rent or loan a gun to a person that the seller “knows or reasonably should know” is prohibited from owning firearms, it will become a Class D felony under the new law. That crime is punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $7,500 upon conviction.

Republicans have said the increased penalty will be a deterrent to illegal or questionable sales.

This law does do good things and we cannot deny that, but in the wake of the two high-profile mass shootings in Atlanta, Georgia, and Boulder, Colorado, we think stepping back from the most basic “common sense” gun laws is a mistake.