Vander Linden Capitol Update – April 13, 2017

by Rep. Guy Vander Linden (R)

This week House Republicans expanded your personal rights and protected others. We continue to work on the budget and make choices that balance government necessity and your pocketbooks. Below you will find some helpful information concerning some issues the legislature is addressing.

What HF 517 Does and Does Not Do

When Governor Branstad signs HF 517 this week firearms laws in Iowa will change for the better. After 7 years of hard work, House Republicans successfully passed a comprehensive bi-partisan bill protecting Second Amendment Rights for Iowans.

Some have expressed concern over the bill and have questioned what it actually means for Iowans’ freedom and safety. A short summary of the bill is provided below to clarify what HF 517 does and does not do to Iowa law.

What the bill does:

Iowans will be allowed to legally possess short-barreled rifles and shotguns if they adhere to strict federal laws.

Private Investigators and Security Guards who have a permit to carry weapons will be allowed to carry on school grounds, while engaged in the performance of their duties.

Permits to carry firearms and permits to acquire will be uniform in appearance and issued for 5 years. For an initial permit to carry, a person is required to take a firearms safety class that includes handgun safety. Language in the bill also makes it easier to get a duplicate permit if a person has moved counties. A person who is denied a permit and wins on appeal shall be awarded attorney fees and court costs.

Parents now have the opportunity to teach their children how to safely handle firearms. The changes also allow an instructor to work with a person under 21 to teach firearms safety.
Anyone who has a professional or nonprofessional permit to carry or a permit to acquire will now have their personal information kept confidential. The information will only be available in limited circumstances to law enforcement.

Current law and language in this bill prohibit a political subdivision from enacting ordinances that restrict firearms possession. The bill adds language to clarify that a political subdivision includes only a city, county or township. A person who is adversely affected by a political subdivisions ordinance or rule regulating firearms, may file suit seeking a injunctive relief.

Under current rule, the general public is prohibited from carrying firearms in the State Capitol. The bill ends this rule and allows a person who has a permit to carry, to conceal and carry a pistol or revolver in the Capitol Building and surrounding grounds and parking. A person must show their permit to carry to Capitol Security if requested.
The Governor will no longer be able to suspend Second Amendment rights in a state of emergency.

A person can use reasonable force, up to and including deadly force to protect themselves and others, if there is a reasonable belief that force is necessary. Iowans no longer have a duty to retreat from any place they are legally allowed to be. Additionally, a person is presumed to be justified in using deadly force if they believe it is necessary to protect themselves or others in their home, place of business or vehicle. Language was added requiring a person who uses deadly force to notify law enforcement and to not destroy evidence or influence witnesses.
The bill increases the penalty for straw purchases to keep firearms out of the hands of individuals barred from legally possessing firearms.

An owner of private property in an unincorporated area of a county may fire weapons for target shooting on the private property. Using the property in this manner is not a violation of noise ordinances or a public or private nuisance.

A person charged with 708.6 (Intimidation with a dangerous weapon) or 724.26 (Possession, receipt, transportation, or dominion and control of firearms, offensive weapons, and ammunition by felons and others) will be required to see a judge before being released on bond.

What the bill does NOT do:

No part of HF 517 allows Iowans to shoot whomever they want for any reason, as some opponents have suggested. The stand your ground language is designed to allow Iowans to protect themselves from actual threats. Iowans are no longer required to retreat from a place they are legally allowed to be and don’t have to worry about civil lawsuits if they act in self-defense.

The bill does not allow children to carry firearms. Under current law a person under legal age can shoot long guns with supervision. The changes in HF 517 make laws for pistols and revolvers similar to laws for long guns. This allows parents or instructors to teach a person under 21 how to safely handle and fire pistols and revolvers and supervise them while they use the firearm.

HF 517 does not eliminate permits to carry weapons or background checks. Under current law, Iowans must have a permit to carry firearms in most situations. That law remains in place and is updated to ensure permits are uniform across the state and that the training requirements are clear. Everyone who applies for a permit to carry or permit to acquire is subject to a background check by their local sheriff’s office.

Opponents have also used examples of recent shootings around the country to highlight the dangers of HF 517 and have claimed the bill allows people with mental health issues, criminals and others banned from possessing firearms to have access to the weapons. The bill does not change who can legally own firearms, those who are prohibited under current law are still prohibited. The bill only expands rights for Iowans who can legally own firearms. Additionally, there is an increased penalty for anyone who provides a firearm to a person who is banned.

Voter ID/Integrity

HF 516 ensures that registered voters are who they say they are when they vote, and that they vote only once.

HF 516 requires the showing of an ID by all voters at polling site. Voters may use existing Iowa DOT-issued IDs, passports, or military IDs for all who have them. If a registered voter does not have one of the aforementioned forms of ID, a voter ID will be issued to them free of charge.

HF 516 requires an ID number on all absentee ballot requests – this could be a driver’s license number, passport number, military ID number, non-operator ID number, or the identification number present on the new voter ID card.

HF 516 encourages county precincts to implement the use of electronic pollbooks, which allow for the easy scanning of IDs and a quick verification process. A large number of Iowa’s 99 counties are already using the electronic poll book program.

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