Democrats: Mandate Proficiency Tests for Weapons Permits

Mar 2, 2016

A gun rights bill that passed the Iowa House is running into opposition in the Democratic-controlled Senate.   

Democrats want gunowners to demonstrate proficiency before acquiring or renewing a permit to carry a concealed weapon.   

By a wide margin, the House last month approved a bill that makes it easier for some gunowners to renew their permits, and protects the confidentiality of permit holders.  

State Center Democrat Steve Sodders says for Democrats to sign on to that, they’ll insist on some basic training with a gun.

“How to load it and unload it safely, you know, point it downrange, don’t point it at people,” Sodders said.   “All those safety issues.”

When the legislature made it harder for sheriffs to deny weapons permits five years ago, Democrats thought that demonstrating proficiency with a weapon would be required.    In practice, it hasn’t been.

“I don’t think that’s that much of a burden,” Sodders says.  “I think Iowans expect that kind of safety, especially for someone that hasn’t touched one before.”

Under the bill, gunowners would have to go to a shooting range and have someone observe them handling a weapon.    

Critics say Iowa law has never required a proficiency test.   

“This restricts the exercise of a fundamental right,” says Richard Rogers with the Iowa Firearms Coalition.

Rogers says 250-thousand Iowans now have gun permits.

“And there’s never been a problem,” Rogers says.   

Sodders says the bill is needed because the NRA made proficiency training optional in their safety courses.