Firearms Coalition: Keep Gunowner Names Private

Feb 5, 2016

A Republican-dominated panel at the statehouse this week approved another gun rights bill, part of a package of legislation backed by the Iowa Firearms Coalition.  

A bill to make weapons permits confidential will now be considered by the full House Judiciary Committee.  

Missouri Valley Republican Matt Windschitl, a leading gun rights advocate in the legislature, says it’s a matter of privacy for gunowners.

“Anyone can walk into any sheriff's office right now and request any information on any permittee,” Windschitl says.   “They can get all the information, including their home address and any other information that's on that form.”

Windschitl says in some states, entire lists of weapons permit holders have been published online, exposing gunowners and violating their right to bear arms.     

"If they're going on vacation they could break in and steal their guns,” Windschitl says.  “Or if they don't have a permit, someone can break into their homes and rob them.” 

The compromise bill would allow a citizen to walk in and request information about a specific gunowner, if they give their own name and the reason why they’re seeking the information.   But a lobbyist with the Iowa Newspaper Association says weapons permits should be treated like any other public record

“If I as a citizen of the state want to access those public records I have a right to do so,” said Scott Sundstrom.   “I don't need to tell why or who I am to exercise that right.”

Some church groups oppose the bill.   Bill Stewart with the United Methodist Church says keeping the records open will help the public keep government in check.

“The hallmark of a good open government is transparency,” Stewart said.  

A similar measure passed the Iowa House three times last year, but died in the Democratic-controlled Senate.

Another gun rights bill advancing in the Iowa house would let children handle pistols and revolvers under a guardian’s supervision.   Another bill would legalize gun suppressors.   That bill passed the House Judiciary Committee with bipartisan support.