Iowa Gov. Signs Law Instituting Stand-Your-Ground Rules

Iowa Gov. Signs Law Expanding Gun Rights
Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad signed the legislation on Thursday. He will soon be leaving his post to serve as the White House ambassador to China.photo from thehill.com

Legislation signed by Iowa Governor Terry Branstad on Thursday greatly expands concealed-carry rights and establishes new self-defense rules for state residents, while also helping to minimize the number of "gun-free zones."

The new law, HF 517, was passed after Republicans regained control of the state senate, which had blocked similar measures in the past ,according to thehill.com.

Primarily, the legislation says residents now have the right to defend themselves with force if they feel threatened, instituting what are commonly known as "stand your ground" rules. Previously, residents had a "duty to retreat" before they were permitted to use force in self-defense, meaning that they could use a weapon only if every avenue of retreat had been exhausted, notes daily-iowan.com.

The new law also allows those with the proper permit to carry a concealed weapon in the state capitol building, where doing so was previously prohibited, and it also nixes the power of the "governor and other state officials to prohibit possession of a weapon in emergency situations," the story states.

Additionally, municipal and county laws regarding firearms will be pre-empted under the new state law. These last two measures are mainly aimed at preventing cities and towns from creating gun-free zones.

The new law also legalizes short-barreled shotguns (SBS) and short-barreled rifles (SBR), providing individuals abide by federal NFA regulations regarding such firearms.

What's more, if a concealed carrier is required by law enforcement to show proof that they indeed have a permit, they may now do so at a later date—like a motorist who is pulled over without their driver's license on them, but is a licensed driver. Previously, leaving your permit at home while carrying was a misdemeanor in Iowa, according to the story.

When it comes to criminal charges, the legislation will reduce some penalties for carrying a firearm and prosecutors in Iowa will face a higher standard when it comes to proving that someone who commits a serious felony while in possession of a firearm intended to use the gun during the commission of a crime.

“In state legislatures across America, lawmakers are expanding law-abiding citizens’ constitutional right to self-protection,” said NRA chief lobbyist Chris Cox in a statement.

While the legislation is an improvement for gun rights in Iowa, advocates were hoping for passage of an earlier version of the bill, which included a provision instituting constitutional carry, meaning state residents who are legally allowed to own a firearm would have been able to carry concealed without obtaining a permit. the story says. That provision was trimmed as the bill made its way through the state legislature.

Branstad will soon leave his post as governor to serve as President Donald Trump's ambassador to China, the story says, and this is likely the last measure he will approve in Iowa.