Letters to the editor: New Iowa and U.S. gun policies threaten public safety

Photo cropped for size from an image by Hank Hession
By Donna Wong-Gibbons of North Liberty

The 2017 legislative session brought sweeping changes with the passage of what some have called the most comprehensive pro-gun bill in Iowa’s history. Although a number of these changes are concerning to public safety proponents, two fundamental pieces of regulation have been retained under the gun omnibus bill — background checks and permit to carry. These measures are critical to saving lives — data show that states that require background checks on all handgun sales have 47 percent fewer women shot to death by intimate partners, 47 percent fewer suicides by gun and 53 percent fewer law enforcement officers shot and killed in the line of duty. Similarly, research shows that states that weaken their permit systems and limit the ability of law enforcement to deny permits to dangerous individuals see a 13-15 percent increase in violent crime. In short, these two policies are a critical part of maintaining public safety and reducing gun violence.

A dangerous and chaotic policy called Concealed Carry Reciprocity (CCR), however, is poised to gut Iowa’s remaining gun safety measures. CCR is a national policy that would override state laws and make the weakest link the law of the land by forcing each state to recognize the concealed carry standards from every other state, even those that have weaker or no standards at all. This proposal would effectively allow dangerous people to carry hidden, loaded guns anywhere at any time.

Recognizing other states’ concealed carry permits is not a question of standardizing regulations but of subjecting Iowans to inadequate or absent regulations in other states. Some proponents of CCR argue that such a policy is no different than Iowa recognizing other state driver’s licenses, but this analogy only holds true if some states didn’t require drivers to be licensed or even know how to drive in order to operate a vehicle. In fact, some state concealed carry permitting systems are run so poorly that they issue permits to people with felonies. Some states don’t require in-state residency to get a permit, allowing individuals to apply for another state’s permit (sometimes even by mail) because it’s easier to get or because they have been denied a permit in their home state. Twelve states require no permit at all for concealed carry. Felons, convicted stalkers and violent criminals are among the dangerous individuals who would be able to carry guns in Iowa under CCR, and there would be little to nothing that law enforcement could do to prevent or even investigate it.

It is no surprise, therefore, that law enforcement overwhelmingly opposes CCR and the risks it poses to the lives of individual officers. Among the organizations that have publicly denounced CCR are the Fraternal Order of Police, the International Association of Chiefs of Police and the Police Foundation.

Concealed Carry Reciprocity is a dangerous policy that will put the lives of Iowans at risk. I urge anyone who is committed to preventing gun violence to contact their Congressional representatives and to encourage their friends and relatives in other states to do the same.

This article was originally published in Little Village issue 228.

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