July 1, 2017, saw numerous changes to Iowa gun laws when House File 517, AKA the “Omnibus Gun Law,” became state law—and most are to the benefit of Iowa’s gun owners.
As WQAD News 8 reported, one of the most important changes concerned self-defense. Iowa’s new Stand Your Ground law “allows lawful citizens to use reasonable force (that force and no more which a reasonable person, in like circumstances, would judge to be necessary to prevent injury or loss of life).”
The Stand Your Ground law removes what had previously been a sticking point for gun owners in Iowa: the legal requirement for someone to attempt to retreat or remove themselves from a situation before using force to defend themselves.
The new law also includes a built-in “civil immunity” clause, which means that if a person using a firearm in self defense is “deemed to have acted in a reasonable manner and (is) cleared of any wrongdoing in a criminal court,” they cannot then be sued in civil court.
At the same time, the law states that individuals who have to use deadly force must contact the appropriate law-enforcement authorities “in a reasonable time period” and cannot “intentionally destroy or alter evidence” germane to the deadly force encounter.
Other changes WQAD News 8 noted include:
– Supervised Youth Handgun Shooting – “Repeals Iowa’s ban on supervised youth handgun shooting. Any Iowan under the age of 14 may legally shoot pistols or revolvers so long as they’re under the direct supervision of a sober parent, guardian or instructor over the age of 21.”
– Firearm Safety Training Program – “Hunter Safety Courses that include a handgun safety training program will be accepted as valid” for concealed-carry permit training requirement.
– A newly completed firearms safety training course is no longer required for the renewal of a concealed-carry permit. However, firearms safety training is still mandated as part of the initial permit application requirements.
– Iowa veterans scored a win, too. Their DD214s can now be used for proof of training for the initial Permit to Carry application requirements, as well as for permit renewal purposes.
– Personal information for carry permit holders is now protected. “The personal information contained on a Permit to Carry or Permit to Acquire cannot be shared outside of law enforcement use. The Department of Public Safety or Sheriff’s Departments may share statistical information only, e.g. ‘There was a 90% increase in Permits to Carry issued in 2017.’ This prevents the malicious mass collection and publication of Permit holder’s private information by media outlets.”
Some punishments for gun-related legal infractions were also beefed up. Two of note:
– “Enhanced Straw Purchasing Penalties – Anyone caught serving as a Straw Purchaser (buying a weapon for a prohibited person) is committing a Class D felony.”
– “Duty to Carry Permit – Under Iowa law citizens with a Permit to Carry Weapons shall have their permit in their ‘immediate possession.’” Failure to do this is now a misdemeanor.
All in all, these changes appear to be a big win for Iowa gun owners.
–By Brian McCombie