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Governor Branstad Poised to Sign Gun Rights Bill

Joyce Russell/IPR
Gov. Terry Branstad and Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds

Governor Branstad says a controversial gun rights bill that gained final legislative approval last week is reasonable and fair with adequate safeguards to protect public safety.   

He says he will thoroughly review the bill before making a final decision, but he appears poised to sign it into law. 

The bill includes new legal protections for gunowners who fire to defend life or property, as well as a wide range of other gun rights provisions.     

I try to review everything before making a final decision. -Gov. Branstad

Governor Branstad says he worked with Republicans in the legislature as they put the bill together.

“The people who managed this bill were careful to craft something that is reasonable and something I could support,” Branstad said.

As recently as 2015, Branstad said Iowa’s gun laws were sufficient.  

“Obviously a number of issues and questions have come up,” Branstad said.

Branstad says he was moved by the arguments of two Iowa girls who fought for the right to handle pistols, which the bill includes.  

Branstad says he sees nothing wrong with allowing responsible citizens with gun permits to enter the capitol armed as the bill allows.    

"I just want to make sure that the safety of the citizens of our state is protected and that people feel they have access to the capitol," Branstad says, "and the rights of our citizens under the Second Amendment are also protected."

Major legal groups oppose the bill, including the Iowa County Attorneys Association and the Iowa Judicial Branch.    

“We are unsure if the…bill will maintain the status quo on courthouse security,” said Judicial Branch spokesman Steve Davis in a statement.

The legislation gives Iowans the right to file lawsuits challenging gun-free zones in government buildings including courthouses.

One person died in a courthouse shooting in Jackson County in 2014.   

In 1986 the mayor of Mount Pleasant was killed and two city councilmembers wounded in a shooting at City Hall.   

Due to the memory of that event, Rep. David Heaton (R-Mount Pleasant) was one of two Republicans who voted against the bill in the House.

Branstad will have three days to sign or veto the bill once the official copy reaches his desk.