Obama's Gun Proposal's Effect, or Lack Thereof, on Iowa

Jan 8, 2016

Earlier this week President Obama announced a plan of executive actions meant to reduce gun violence in America. Among them are attempts to close the so-called "gun show loophole," increase FBI staff running background checks, put larger restrictions on those that buy firearms through corporations or trusts, and remove barriers to integrating mental health records into background check databases. In this News Buzz interview, Ross Loder, Bureau Chief responsible for the weapons permits section at the Iowa Department of Public Safety, joins Ben Kieffer to discuss Iowa gun law. Loder says some of the President's proposals "have really very little impact in Iowa." 

On buying through corporations or trusts

"There's one proposal to address the creation of fairly complicated legal instruments, specifically trusts, that people are using in some states to more easily acquire and trade fully automated firearms, short-barreled rifles, short-barreled shotguns, and silencers. Those items are generally prohibited for a private citizen to possess in Iowa. So that change while it's interesting to many, is not one that we would expect to have any significant impact in Iowa." 

On background checks

"Perhaps one of the other features that the President has announced is a proposal really calling and asking states to take steps to improve the completeness, accuracy and thoroughness of criminal history and mental health records. Iowa's already a leader of the pack when it comes to the thoroughness and completeness of our records. We actually were recently visited by the FBI which was hoping to visit some of the best performing states to help develop best practice recommendations that could be made available to those jurisdictions that don't perform as well when it comes to thorough and complete records and availability for background check purposes.

We also have had a very significant undertaking that's been completed to provide certain mental health related firearm prohibitions to the background check system. So some of those efforts to enhance our capabilities in the background check realm are items where Iowa's already a leader of the pack."

On gun show loopholes

"The gun show loophole terminology is really short-hand for describing a fairly complicated situation and that situation is one in which, under federal law, a dealer is required to be licensed and a licensed dealer must have a background check performed for each transfer of a firearm. 

Under federal law, a private party transfer* is not subject to the background check requirement and if a person were to sell a firearm to their neighbor, not only are they not required to have a background check performed but they cannot access the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, even if they desire to do so.

Those are the two ends of the spectrum a licensed dealer performing checks and a private party selling a gun to a neighbor. The discussion about the gun show loophole is really getting at the issue at the gray area in between the private party and the licensed dealer. At what point does somebody sell frequently enough, or sell enough guns, that they are no longer just a casual, private party selling, perhaps, to a neighbor, and really entering into the realm of the business of engaging in a business of buying and selling firearms?

The proposals, as we understand them, though the details are yet to be released, would provide greater clarity and perhaps make more people subject to federal licensure. But again, those are all federal actions, and they don't directly impact or interact with Iowa law."

*of a long gun firearm. In Iowa, handgun firearm transfers by both licensed and private sellers require the buyer to obtain a permit to acquire or a permit to carry before the sale can be made.