March 18, 2015 – Captain Mark Kelly, Co-Founder of Americans for Responsible Solutions and retired NASA astronaut, issued the following statement today in response to a bill moving forward in the Iowa legislature, SB 425, which would weaken Iowa’s gun laws by making background checks optional before buying a handgun and make it easier for convicted felons and domestic abusers to access guns:
“I urge Iowa’s leaders to reject this irresponsible bill, which would take Iowa backwards – and make its communities less safe. This bill would give dangerous people like convicted felons and domestic abusers a new choice: whether they want to undergo a background check before buying a handgun. Why would Iowa’s leaders give them that choice?” said Captain Mark Kelly, Co-Founder of Americans for Responsible Solutions. “The evidence is clear: states where background checks are required on gun sales, no matter where they’re bought, are safer places to live. The evidence is also clear that the lawmakers pushing this reckless legislation are out of step with the vast majority of Iowans. I urge Iowa’s leaders to listen to their constituents, do the responsible thing, and help keep guns from falling into the wrong hands.”
BACKGROUND ON IOWA’S GUN LAWS, SB 425, AND BACKGROUND CHECKS
Iowa Law Requires A State & Federal Background Check Before Getting A Permit to Buy A Gun. Federal law requires people who buy guns at a licensed dealer to pass a background check, but allows guns to be bought online and at gun shows without a background check. However, Iowa law currently fills some of these gaps – requiring anyone who wants to buy a handgun to obtain a “permit-to-purchase.” To be issued a “permit-to-purchase” in Iowa, people must pass a state and federal background check. The permit may not be used for three days after it has been issued, and it is only valid for one year.
The Bill Moving Through The Iowa Legislature, SB 425, Would Make Create Loopholes That Let People Get a Gun without a Background Check. Most dangerously:
Handgun buyers would no longer be required to undergo a background check before getting a gun from an unlicensed seller. SB 425 would make “permit-to-purchase” optional, which would not prevent criminals from getting guns. This would make it easy for people who can’t pass background checks, like convicted felons and domestic abusers, to buy handguns.
Research Shows Iowans Want Expanded Background Checks. Research of Iowa voters’ attitudes about gun laws conducted in 2014 on behalf of Americans for Responsible Solutions PAC found widespread support for background checks on gun sales. Among the research’s findings:
84 percent of Iowans support requiring background checks for all gun sales;
Only 8 percent of Iowans want weaker gun laws; and,
More than two-thirds of Iowans say that background checks can help reduce gun violence in their communities.
States with Background Checks Have Seen Huge Public Safety Benefits. In the seventeen states and the District of Columbia that already require background checks for all handgun sales, data shows that:
46 percent fewer women are shot to death by their intimate partners;
48 percent fewer firearms suicides and,
48 percent fewer law enforcement officers are shot to death by handguns.
States That Repeal Background Checks Have Become More Dangerous Places. When Missouri repealed a similar permit-to-purchase background check law in 2007 that required background checks on all handgun sales, gun homicides increased by 23 percent in the state. According to a recent study from Johns Hopkins, that change alone resulted in between 55 and 63 additional homicides per year.