DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Only days after a mass shooting at a grocery store in Boulder, Colorado, prompted renewed discussions about the nation’s gun laws, Gov. Kim Reynolds is considering a bill that would make handgun carry permits and background checks on unlicensed sales optional in Iowa.
The Iowa Senate was debating gun bills on March 22, just as a Colorado man began shooting customers at a Boulder grocery store. Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa, who bought the Ruger AR-556 used in the attack six days earlier, is facing murder charges.
Republican Sen. Jason Schultz argued in favor of relaxing gun safety measures in Iowa as the shooting that killed 10 people happened about 600 miles away. The bill was approved in the Senate with only Republican support after clearing the House with the backing of only one Democrat.
The measure would eliminate current state permit requirements and the accompanying background checks that ensure a person obtaining or carrying a gun isn’t disqualified from ownership due to past felonies or abuses. The bill also eliminates firearms training now required to obtain a gun permit.
Democratic Senate Minority Leader Zach Wahls speaking Thursday at a press conference hosted by Everytown for Gun Safety, a gun control advocacy group, said it’s important for officials to do more than pray for victims and families and fly flags at half-staff in their honor.
“We have to do everything that we can to prevent the senseless violence in the future, so I say today to Gov. Reynolds for the sake of our families and the safety of our communities veto this dangerous legislation and let’s start over,” he said.
Schultz said during Senate debate that the law recognizes that keeping and bearing arms is a fundamental right for law-abiding citizens. He contended communities are safer when more people have guns to protect themselves.
“More guns equal less crime and ladies and gentlemen when all the good guys are armed the bad guys live a short, dangerous, brutish life,” he said.
Reynolds, a Republican, has made statements in the past in support of the state’s current background checks and permits to carry handguns. However she has rarely vetoed measures supported by her GOP colleagues and when asked last week if she had changed her mind on such gun rules, she suggested an openness to the bill.
“I thought the policies were good that were in place but I will continue to take a look at new legislation that is presented,” she said. “I think that’s the appropriate approach and that’s what we’re doing right now, and I’ve been very consistent in my messaging on that.”