Wide ranging gun bill clears Iowa House on 62-37 vote

DES MOINES — A gun related bill that’s been proposed for the past several years has cleared the Iowa House and it would make gun safety courses developed by the National Rifle Association widely available through Iowa schools.

The bill would let anyone who may legally carry a weapon leave a gun in a locked vehicle in the parking lot of any public K-through-12 school, community college or state university. The gun would have to be out of sight inside the vehicle. Democrats say it’s wrong to allow more guns to be closer to students and is a reckless step after escalating school shootings. The bill’s Republican floor manager says the bill upholds the Second Amendment rights of Iowans and he doubts parents or staff members who are legal gun owners pose a danger to students.

Business groups objected to having the policy apply to the private sector and the bill was changed so it does not apply to businesses.

An addition to the bill was originally offered by a conservative northwest Iowa Republican and a Des Moines Democrat whose 20 year old son was shot to death in 1997. It calls for age-appropriate gun safety courses in public schools, using materials developed by the National Rifle Association. The gun safety classes would be optional in kindergarten through 6th grades, but if the bill becomes law Iowa public schools would have to offer or make gun safety courses available for 7th through 12th graders. Instructors would not have to be licensed teachers.

The gun policies in the House bill must be approved by the Senate before they’d go to the governor for her signature.