A bill that that would allow children of all ages to handle guns passed Iowa’s house of representative last week.
The bill which was approved on Tuesday by a 62-36 vote, would allow children 14 or younger to possess “a pistol, revolver or the ammunition” under parental supervision and is now headed for the state Senate.
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The bill sparked an intense debate in the state about the proper balance between gun rights and basic child safety both with Republican and Democratic members.
“What this bill does, the bill before us, allows for 1-year-olds, 2-year-olds, 3-year-olds, 4-year-olds to operate handguns. We do not need a militia of toddlers. We do not have handguns that I am aware of that fit the hands of a 1- or 2-year-old,” said Democratic Representative Kirstin Running-Marquardt.
The National Rifle Association (NRA) supported the bill, while Iowa gun safety groups expressed their dissension, pointing to cases where children have accidentally shot parents or instructors.
“I think children do not have the necessary judgment about using guns and I don’t think they are old enough to understand the consequences,” said Jeremy Brigham, Iowans for Gun Safety’s Executive Director.
“Our concern is that the bill doesn’t stipulate where the gun can be used. I’d rather stick with the long guns and have them be supervised on shootings ranges, not simply wherever the parent thinks it’s suitable,” he added.
Republicans in Iowa’s House including the bill’s sponsor, Representative Jake Highfill, said the legislation was a matter of the rights of the parents to modify the injustice in Iowa code. “Allowing people to learn at a young age the respect that a gun commands is one of the most important things you can do,” Highfill said.
“We want to make sure we turn power back to parents, allow them to make the decision if their children are ready or not. If they don’t want to shoot or teach them gun safety that’s also their choice,” he added.
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