In Wake of Florida Shooting, Iowa State Senate Judiciary Committee Declines to Advance a Bill that Would Have Eliminated Background Checks on Private Sales and the State’s Concealed Carry Permitting System

Bill would have made it easier for guns to get in dangerous hands, and allowed untrained individuals to carry concealed firearms

Washington, DC — Today, Giffords, the gun safety organization founded by former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and Captain Mark Kelly, approves the Iowa State Senate Judiciary Committee for declining to advance a bill that would have weakened the background check system and make it easier for unvetted and untrained individuals to carry concealed firearms. The legislation, Senate File 2106, would have eliminate background checks on private sales in Iowa by erasing the state’s permit-to-acquire handguns. It would also have overridden existing law by allowing any eligible person to carry a concealed firearm in public without a permit.

“Yesterday, only one day after the tragic shooting in Parkland, Florida in which 17 people were killed and another 16 wounded, the Iowa Senate Judiciary Committee was set to consider a dangerous bill that would have put the safety of Iowa families at risk,” said Nico Bocour, Giffords State Legislative Director. “We are glad that they recognized that further weakening Iowa’s gun safety laws is not the solution to this epidemic and instead listen to the voices of law enforcement and community members alike who opposed this reckless bill.”

Current Permit-to-Acquire Law in Iowa

  • Iowa requires an annual permit to acquire pistols or revolvers.  
  • Permits may be revoked in the event the holder becomes disqualified.

Weakening Background Checks Threatens Public Safety

Since the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) system has been in place, over 225 million background checks have been conducted, most instantaneously. Over two million firearms sales to prohibited purchasers have been denied since passage of the Brady Act in 1993. The correlation between strong background check laws, particularly permit-to-purchase laws, and reduced gun death rates is well-documented.

For example, in 2007 Missouri repealed its permit-to-purchase handgun law, which required background checks on all handgun sales, and saw its gun homicide rate jump 25%, its share of crime guns recovered in-state grew 25%, and its share of crime guns recovered within two years of their original sale double, a key indicator of crime gun trafficking.

Current Concealed Carry Permit Law in Iowa

  • Iowa is a limited discretion “shall issue” state.
  • Iowa does not technically have a “good character” requirement, but allows an application for a concealed carry permit to be denied if law enforcement can show a documented reason to believe the person is dangerous.
  • Iowa also requires applicants to demonstrate knowledge of firearm use and/or safety.

Permitless Carry is a Reckless Policy

The gun lobby has been working to weaken or erode concealed carry permitting requirements at the state level for years. Currently, twelve states do not require a permit to carry concealed firearms in their state. Eleven of these states eliminated their permit since 2003 (Alaska, Arizona, Idaho, Kansas, Maine, Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire, North Dakota, West Virginia, and Wyoming). A twelfth state, Vermont, is the only state in the country that never placed restrictions on concealed carry.

In these 12 states, people can carry a hidden, loaded a gun in public without passing a background check. Without a permit system, there is no way for a law enforcement officer to verify that an individual is lawfully carrying a concealed weapon. These states take essentially zero steps to prevent demonstrably dangerous and irresponsible people from acquiring and carrying hidden, loaded weapons around public streets, buildings, restaurants, parks, and businesses.