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Iowa senators advance bill to prevent law enforcement, local governments from enforcing federal gun regulations

senator zach nunn
John Pemble
IPR file
Republican Sen. Zach Nunn's proposed "Second Amendment Preservation Act" advanced Wednesday.

Iowa local governments and law enforcement agencies would face a $50,000 fine if they enforce federal gun regulations under a bill advancing in the state Senate.

The two Republicans on a panel of three senators voted to approve the “Second Amendment Preservation Act” on Wednesday, while saying they intend to make changes to the bill.

Sen. Zach Nunn, R-Bondurant, who is running in the Republican 3rd Congressional District primary, sponsored the bill.

He said on Wednesday that the bill needs some changes, but it’s intended to send the message that Iowa won’t tolerate federal government “overreach” in the form of gun laws that are different from the state’s.

“We want to protect our law enforcement officers on the front line who are serving the community, but not deputize them as agents of a department or agency to go in and infringe upon Iowans’ Second Amendment constitutional rights,” Nunn said.

The Iowa Firearms Coalition registered as undecided on the legislation. Lobbyist Richard Rogers said he supports the concept, but Nunn’s bill needs some changes.

“It’s somewhat of a, perhaps, a placeholder for the issue,” Rogers said. “And we’d be really pleased to work with the sponsor and others…to perfect it. But we do think that it’s a very important issue that the state make these statements, somewhat symbolic, but also something to fall back on if they’re pressed.”

Rogers said one-third of Iowa counties have declared themselves Second Amendment sanctuaries.

Kelly Meyers, representing the Iowa County Attorneys Association, said she has concerns about not being able to enforce a federal law that allows local authorities to remove firearms from people who have been convicted of domestic violence.

“That’s an important piece for domestic violence victims to remain safe,” Meyers said.

Gun control groups like Everytown for Gun Safety oppose the bill.

“Our biggest issue with this bill is as it relates to the provisions that penalize local law enforcement for working with their federal counterparts,” lobbyist Sydney Gangestad said. “We believe this would have a chilling effect, and that is a great concern to us.”

Traci Kennedy is chapter leader for Iowa Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. She said the language in the bill is so vague it would inhibit enforcement of all gun laws.

“State laws that prohibit local law enforcement from cooperating with federal law enforcement are a danger to public safety, particularly in the context of gun trafficking and other federal gun crimes that state and local officials frequently do cooperate to enforce,” Kennedy said.

She pointed to a similar law passed in Missouri last year that has faced multiple lawsuits, including a challenge from nearly 60 police chiefs.

Rogers also said the Iowa bill is similar to the Missouri law.

Sen. Tony Bisignano, D-Des Moines, voted against the bill Wednesday.

Katarina Sostaric is IPR's State Government Reporter