While Iowa Senate lawmakers on Monday afternoon debated and ultimately advanced legislation that would loosen the state’s gun permitting and background check system, 10 people were killed after a gunman opened fire in a Boulder, Colorado grocery store.
This latest mass shooting with fatalities including one police officer at a local King Soopers Grocery Store has already triggered national and statewide calls for increased gun reform. The bill that GOP lawmakers advanced in the Iowa Senate around 4 p.m. on Monday makes obtaining a permit to buy and carry handguns an optional process for Iowans and eliminates background checks on private gun sales.
“It’s devastating to have another mass shooting, especially during the exact time we were debating gun legislation in the Iowa Senate,” Democratic Sen. Rob Hogg, who was made aware of the Colorado shooting after the debate, told Iowa Starting Line.
“It was tragic. Tragic.”
Passed along party lines on Monday in the Iowa Senate, the bill, which would eliminate current requirements that Iowans need a sheriff-issued permit and resultant background check before acquiring and carrying firearms, now heads to Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds’ desk.
Other Democratic legislators have spoken up about the ironic timing of the bill’s advancement.
Senate Minority Leader Sen. Zach Wahls wrote on Twitter, “I just learned that *literally while we were debating this bill* yet another mass shooting was unfolding in our country. Heartbroken for those in Colorado.”
I just learned that *literally while we were debating this bill* yet another mass shooting was unfolding in our country. Heartbroken for those in Colorado. https://t.co/fc3XvLaaPe
— Zach Wahls (@ZachWahls) March 23, 2021
Democratic Sen. Claire Celsi used the concurrence to highlight national Democratic efforts to swiftly pass gun legislation following Monday’s shooting in Colorado and the March 16 series of mass shootings at spas in suburban Atlanta that seemed to target Asian-Americans.
“Ten dead people in Boulder, killed by a man with an AR-15. While my Senate colleagues and I debated ending Iowa’s fair permitting and background check system. I’m sick about this, especially after Atlanta last week. We must pass national gun legislation. Now,” she tweeted.
Ten dead people in Boulder, killed by a man with an AR-15. While my Senate colleagues and I debated ending Iowa’s fair permitting and background check system. I’m sick about this, especially after Atlanta last week. We must pass national gun legislation. Now.
— Claire Celsi (@SenClaireCelsi) March 23, 2021
The U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday morning held a hearing on gun violence. A few hours later, President Joe Biden in remarks pressured the Senate to pass legislation that tightens the national background check system.
“The Senate should immediately pass … the two House-passed bills that close loopholes in the background check system. These are bills that received votes with both Republicans and Democrats in the House. This is not and should not be a partisan issue. This is an American issue. It will save lives. American lives. We have to act,” Biden said.
Under the bill passed by the Iowa Senate on Monday, Iowans would still have to apply for permits and pass background checks if buying guns from a federally licensed dealer.
Hogg said he thinks there is a “realistic chance” Gov. Kim Reynolds would veto the bill delivered to her desk Monday.
While legislative Republicans have shown strong support for the bill, the Iowa Police Chief Association has registered opposed to the legislation with no other members of the law enforcement lobby in support. The Governor in previous statements noted that Iowa has “reasonable and responsible gun laws on the books” and has said the current permit system should remain.
by Isabella Murray
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