Republicans in the Iowa Senate are working on a bill that would subvert any federal laws aimed at preventing gun violence, even as the number of shootings and gun deaths in the state are on the rise.
The effort, which is being led by Sen. Zach Nunn (R-Bondurant), passed out of a Senate subcommittee on Wednesday. The bill would ban state and local law enforcement officers from enforcing federal laws, executive orders, and any other rules or regulations that Republicans believe infringe on the Second Amendment.
According to the bill, such infringements include efforts to limit the sale or transfer of firearms, taxes on gun sales, or attempts to register or track firearms that might impact the ability of individuals to buy guns or bullets. Nunn, who is running in the Republican primary for Iowa’s third congressional district, claimed his plan is intended to protect gun owners’ rights.
“We’re concerned that there could be a move at the federal level, through a department or agency, that could really place some restrictions on a gun owner’s rights and have no one in the legislative body—either the federal level or the state level—making their voice heard,” he told the Des Moines Register.
Nunn’s proposal would also fine Iowa cities and law enforcement agencies $50,000 for enforcing any federal gun laws that are stricter than the state’s–a clause that has raised some concern from the Iowa County Attorneys Association. The group expressed fears that the bill might make it more difficult for law enforcement officials to enforce laws aimed at protecting victims of domestic violence.
The bill is also opposed by gun safety groups. “This is a dangerous bill,” Traci Kennedy, the chapter leader of Iowa Moms Demand Action, said during the hearing on the bill.
Nunn’s bill is just the latest effort from Iowa Republicans to loosen gun laws. In 2021, they passed a controversial law that allows adults to buy and carry handguns without a permit. That effort came on the heels of Iowa’s worst year for gun violence ever. In 2020, a record 353 Iowans died from gunshot wounds, including 263 suicides and 85 homicides–an 80% increase over 2019– according to the Iowa Department of Public Health.
Kennedy pleaded with lawmakers to take action on gun violence instead of bills like Nunn’s.
“Rather than focus on legislation that will likely lead to expensive court battles and confusion among law enforcement and actually make Iowa citizens less safe, we’re asking you as lawmakers to focus your time and energy on reducing gun violence,” she said.
by Keya Vakil