Another gun rights bill got its first airing at the statehouse today, with majority Republicans on a three-member panel signing on, and the lone Democrat objecting.
The bill would allow loaded firearms on snowmobiles and all-terrain vehicles on both public and private property. Currently, a gun must be unloaded and in a case.
Richard Rogers with the Iowa Firearms Coalition says there are two problems with the current law.
“One that a lot of people didn't know about it,” Rodgers says. “And it is inequitable.”
Backers argue loaded weapons are currently allowed on other vehicles, from tractors to bicycles.
Cedar Rapids Democrat Liz Bennett is concerned about rollover accidents when a gun might be accidentally discharged, but Rodgers says that’s rare with modern weapons.
A snowmobile owners group says the bill could make it harder to get permission to travel on private land, if it’s known a loaded weapon could be on board.
But Rodgers says there’s no good reason to strip people of their right to self-defense.
“Right now a landowner can travel around on his property with his pickup, his car or his tractor, with a loaded rifle or a sidearm that he carries into town all the time that he’s awake,” Rodgers says. “But as soon as he gets on a snowmobile on his own property he would be committing a crime.”
“I see this as a personal freedom measure,” said Glidden Republican Brian Best, who led the subcommittee from the House Natural Resources Committee.
Backers says interest in the bill arose with the increase in weapons permits in Iowa, which now number more than 250,000. The increase occurred when a law went into effect making it harder for county sheriffs to deny weapons permits.