- Associated Press - Tuesday, March 10, 2015

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - A bill that would make sweeping changes to Iowa’s gun laws advanced in the House Tuesday, despite some groups expressing concern about the legislation’s potential impact on children, domestic violence victims and individuals who are suicidal.

The Republican-controlled House voted 75-24 to advance the bill to the Senate, where lawmakers are also considering a similar bill.

The legislation is lengthy, with multiple components to it. Among its key changes is a proposal that would allow a child under 14 years old to use a handgun under a parent’s supervision.

“We already have laws in the books that allow a parent to teach a child under the age of 18 how to use a rifle or shotgun, at any age,” said Rep. Matt Windschitl, R-Missouri Valley and the bill’s sponsor. “I believe our laws in regards to pistols should match up with that and put the responsibility where it rightfully belongs. In the parents’ hands.”

The bill would also make changes to how people acquire and renew permits. Rev. Cheryl Thomas with Iowans for Gun Safety said the legislation has language that removes a technical three-day waiting period for people seeking a permit to acquire a handgun. She said the bill would remove a buffer period for a suicidal person seeking a gun, as well as remove a cooling period for an abuser seeking to harm a person in a domestic violence scenario.

Thomas also opposes the bill’s legalization of suppressors to help silence guns.

“When Rep. Windschitl talks about the Second Amendment, he’s really talking about convenience for gun owners … convenience for gun sellers over common sense gun laws.”

Windschitl said it would be incorrect to say the bill removes a three-day waiting period for people seeking a permit to acquire a handgun. But the bill would strike language in Iowa Code that such a permit would only be valid three days after the date of an application.

The Institute for Legislative Action, the lobbying arm of the National Rifle Association, also published an article Friday to its members that said the bill would remove a “de facto three-day waiting period for handguns.”

Several groups have expressed opposition to the bill. Some argue it would lead to more accidents involving children and guns. Others say the bill’s provision to ban public access to the names of people who have permits to carry a weapon would be harmful to domestic violence victims seeking information about an abuser.

The Iowa Newspaper Association said earlier this month that keeping such records public provides independent oversight into how the system is functioning. Windschitl and other lawmakers have repeatedly said they want to protect the privacy and safety of gun owners.

The bill had no vocal opposition in the House Tuesday and had bipartisan support. Windschitl said he’s still trying to ensure there are enough votes in the Democratic-controlled Senate.

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