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Iowa House is Voting on Background Check Repeal Tomorrow: Proponents of the Bill are Misleading the Public about the Dangers of this Bill. Here’s the Truth.


The Bill would also Repeal Iowa’s Permit Requirement for Carrying a Concealed Handgun in Public

Tomorrow, the Iowa House is scheduled to vote to repeal state laws requiring background checks on unlicensed handgun sales and a permit to carry a concealed handgun in public. House File 756 and Senate File 535 would repeal Iowa’s background check law and make it easy for felons, domestic abusers, and people prohibited based on mental illnesses to buy handguns in Iowa. These bills would also make it legal for people—including people with dangerous histories—to carry hidden, loaded handguns in public in Iowa without a permit or safety training. 

Lawmakers and proponents of the bill have been perpetuating false narratives to conceal how dangerous this bill would be for public safety in Iowa. Here is the truth:

MYTH: HF 756/SF 535 would improve background checks in Iowa by funnelling more people to purchase handguns through federally licensed firearms dealers. 

  • FACT: These bills would create a dangerous loophole by repealing the current state law that requires a permit — and therefore a background check — in order to buy a handgun from an unlicensed seller. This would make it easy for convicted felons, domestic abusers, and other prohibited possessors to buy handguns illegally.  

MYTH: The primary impact of this proposal is to make it easier for you to purchase a handgun from a close acquaintance, there’s not much else to it. 

  • FACT: These bills would allow Iowans to purchase handguns, without background checks, from unlicensed sellers regardless of whether they are close acquaintances or complete strangers. Unlicensed sellers include certain individuals who list their firearms for sale on the internet’s unregulated online marketplaces, or sell their firearms at gun shows. Iowa’s current permit requirement – which applies to both licensed and unlicensed handgun sales – regularly stops felons, domestic abusers, and other prohibited people who attempt to buy handguns from obtaining them only because they are stopped by a background check.

MYTH: People who want to get guns illegally will always find a way. This law won’t make it any easier for criminals to access guns. 

  • FACT: This loophole would make it easy for people prohibited from possessing firearms to take advantage of the unlicensed gun market and get armed illegally. And research indicates these prohibited purchasers seek out ways to skip a background check: An investigation into — the largest online gun marketplace — found that nearly 1 in 9 prospective buyers who respond to ads from unlicensed sellers would not pass a background check, a rate seven times higher than the denial rate in other contexts where background checks are required. 

MYTH: Iowa’s current system is useless. 

  • FACT: Background checks are the foundation of any comprehensive gun violence prevention strategy, and requiring background checks on all gun sales is proven to reduce gun violence. Before anyone can purchase a gun, they should pass a criminal background check to make sure they are not prohibited based on a dangerous or criminal history. And we know background checks work: State laws requiring background checks for all handgun sales are associated with lower firearm homicide rates, lower firearm suicide rates, and lower rates of firearm trafficking. 

MYTH: Iowa’s current system puts too much burden on the gun purchaser. 

  • FACT: Handgun purchase permits are easily available from Iowa county sheriffs. A person makes an application to the sheriff in their county, and the sheriff conducts a criminal background check. Unless the check reveals that the applicant cannot legally possess a handgun, the sheriff must “immediately” issue a permit, valid for up to five years, to the applicant.   

MYTH: Iowans don’t want background checks or concealed carry permits. 

  • FACT: Polls have found that these policies are extraordinarily popular among Iowa voters. In fact, 85 percent of voters support requiring a permit to carry a concealed gun in public places, and 81 percent support requiring background checks on all gun sales. PolitiFact confirmed Iowan’s stance on gun safety in their own data analysis and found that “a majority of Iowans and Americans support background checks for gun buyers.” The bottom line is: HF 756/SF 535 would repeal extremely popular and effective policies, and threaten public safety in Iowa.

More information on SF 535 and HF 756 is available here.