Reynolds signs permitless carry, firearm industry immunity bills into law

By: - April 2, 2021 3:09 pm

Gun in a man’s holster. (Photo by James Carroll/Getty Images Plus)

Iowans will no longer need a permit to acquire or carry a handgun under legislation signed Friday by Gov. Kim Reynolds.

The law changes Iowa’s gun permitting requirements. Prior to this law, an individual would undergo a background check to get a permit to acquire or a permit to carry for pistols and revolvers. When carrying the weapon, they would need to display the permit if law enforcement requested to see it.

Beginning July 1, Iowans can purchase handguns from a federally licensed dealer without a permit, but the dealer must run a background check on them at every purchase. Permits to carry will not be required.

“We will never be able to outlaw or prevent every single bad actor from getting a gun, but what we can do is ensure law-abiding citizens have full access to their constitutional rights while keeping Iowans safe,” Reynolds said in a statement.

Supporters of the bill said the change will lead to more background checks in Iowa.

“There are no background checks eliminated in this legislation,” Rep. Steven Holt, R-Denison, said in floor debate on the bill. “In fact, they will increase.” 

Opponents of the bill focused on language about private sales: The law states that someone commits a felony if they sell a firearm to someone they “know or reasonably should know” should not possess that weapon. A background check is not explicitly required.

Rep. Mary Wolfe, a defense attorney, said the standard would not hold up in court.

“Please, if anybody is ever charged with that or you know anybody charged with that, send them to me, because that’s going to be a real easy $2,000 for me (to defend them),” Wolfe, D-Clinton, said.

Republicans said a felony would be a sufficient deterrent to prevent private sales to individuals who should not have firearms.

“I understand that you’re talking about maybe there wouldn’t be any convictions,” Holt said. “I don’t think that changes the fact that it’s a deterrent to people who read that and want to be law-abiding citizens.”

The National Rifle Association praised the measure in a Friday news release.

“This law is a common sense measure that allows law-abiding citizens to exercise their fundamental right of self-defense in the manner that best suits their needs,” NRA Institute for Legislative Action Executive Director Jason Ouimet said.

Iowa Democratic Party Chair Rep. Ross Wilburn fired back that the legislation “serves no purpose other than appeasing the gun industry and its powerful lobbyists.”

Read more: Iowa House passes permitless carry bill after contentious debate

Reynolds also signed into law House File 621, a bill that provides immunity to firearm and ammunition manufacturers and sellers. Iowans may still sue a manufacturer over a defective product, but the companies cannot be held liable if a firearm is used in a criminal manner that causes harm.

The bill is similar to the 2005 Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, a federal law that protects gun manufacturers from liability. President Joe Biden has promised that he will prioritize repealing the law.

In floor debate on the legislation, Holt emphasized the firearms industry should not be liable for the way people use guns.

“Using the nonsensical logic of holding gun and ammunition manufacturers accountable for the way their products are used, folks should be suing automobile manufacturers and dealerships when a drunk driver kills somebody,” Holt said.

Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.

Katie Akin
Katie Akin

Katie Akin is a former Iowa Capital Dispatch reporter. Katie began her career as an intern at PolitiFact, debunking viral fake news and fact-checking state and national politicians. She moved to Iowa in 2019 for a politics internship at the Des Moines Register, where she assisted with Iowa Caucus coverage, multimedia projects and the Register’s Iowa Poll. She became the Register’s retail reporter in early 2020, chronicling the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Central Iowa’s restaurants and retailers.