Bill would allow disabled Iowans to hunt from motorized scooters

By: - February 11, 2021 4:14 pm

State lawmakers are considering a bill that would allow disabled Iowans to hunt using motorized scooters.

If approved, House Study Bill 196 would allow non-ambulatory people to carry uncased, but unloaded, firearms while operating or riding an electric scooter. In addition, non-ambulatory Iowans would be allowed to fire their guns from an electric scooter while they are hunting, as long as the electric scooter isn’t moving at the time.

Rep. Robert Bacon, the Story County Republican who introduced the bill, says the proposed new law is a response to a situation faced by a constituent who is disabled and needs his scooter to get near the tree stand where he likes to hunt. The bill, he said, “would be so people like him can legally get from point A to point B” while transporting their weapons.

The bill also includes provisions for non-hunters, one of which would allow any person, while on land they don’t own or rent, to operate an electric scooter with a loaded pistol or revolver, regardless of whether the weapon is concealed. A separate provision of the bill states that if a non-hunter is on land they own or rent, they can legally operate an electric scooter with any type of  loaded firearm, concealed or not, even if they don’t have a permit to carry weapons.

Bacon said those provisions are “for the farmer who is out checking his fields or his cattle with his ATV or a snowmobile. He can carry his weapon with him in case he sees a coyote or something like that.”

The bill defines an “electric scooter” as a device that is equipped with handlebars and an electric motor that moves at no more than 24 mph. It appears to be designed to exempt motor scooters from the existing legal prohibitions on hunting from a moving vehicle — a law that’s aimed at barring hunters from shooting from cars, pick-up trucks and recreational vehicles.

The bill has been referred to the House Committee on Natural Resources for consideration.

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Clark Kauffman
Clark Kauffman

Deputy Editor Clark Kauffman has worked during the past 30 years as both an investigative reporter and editorial writer at two of Iowa’s largest newspapers, the Des Moines Register and the Quad-City Times. He has won numerous state and national awards for reporting and editorial writing. His 2004 series on prosecutorial misconduct in Iowa was named a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Investigative Reporting. From October 2018 through November 2019, Kauffman was an assistant ombudsman for the Iowa Office of Ombudsman, an agency that investigates citizens’ complaints of wrongdoing within state and local government agencies.