Reynolds declines to say whether she’ll sign bill eliminating handgun permit requirement

Gov. Kim Reynolds speaks at her news conference at Iowa PBS on March 24, 2021. (Screen shot from Iowa PBS livestream)

Gov. Kim Reynolds would not say Wednesday whether she plans to sign legislation approved last week to eliminate permit requirements for Iowans to purchase or carry a handgun.

Reynolds, responding to a reporter’s question at a news conference, said her staff is currently reviewing House File 756. The bill received final approval by the Iowa Senate Monday, the same day a gunman opened fire in a Boulder, Colorado, supermarket, killing 10 people including a police officer.

“I’ve been pretty clear when we’re talking about gun violence, we need to take a holistic approach. There’s not a single answer. We need to be following the laws that are on the books, we need to make sure that coordination is in place between the agencies, we need to do everything we can to be proactive in just addressing mental health and behavioral health issues,” she said.

A reporter asked Reynolds about a previous statement she made indicating support for Iowa’s current gun permit laws, which she voted for as a state senator in 2010.

Reynolds said in 2019, according to Radio Iowa:  “I was actually in the Legislature when we passed the ‘shall issue’ bill for gun permits with a background check, was very supportive of that legislation and so we’ll see what happens through the Legislature,” Reynolds said. “We’ll watch the bill, but, you know, I do support the bill that I voted for … and thought it was good policy.”

Reynolds said Wednesday that she had also stated in 2019 that “I thought the policies were good that were in place but I will continue to take a look at new legislation that is presented and I think that’s the appropriate approach.”

House File 756 would make gun permits voluntary in Iowa. Supporters said anyone without a permit who buys a handgun from a licensed dealer would still need a background check under federal law. However, the bill would allow handguns to be sold by unlicensed individuals without a background check as long as the seller does not know or have reason to know the buyer is prohibited from gun ownership.

Reynolds last week ordered flags to be flown at half-staff in honor of the eight victims at a mass shooting at an Atlanta-area spa on March 16. She also ordered flags to be lowered Tuesday for the 10 victims of the Boulder, Colo., shooting.

Although she was asked about Iowa’s gun legislation in light of the recent shootings, she did not mention the victims of those events Wednesday.