A bill allowing children to carry and handle handguns was passed by lawmakers in Iowa on Tuesday.
The bill, voted 62-36 by Iowa’s House of Representatives, will allow children under the age of 14 years to possess “a pistol, revolver or the ammunition” under supervision of their parents. While the bill was hugely debated upon, and has been a polarizing issue, it will head to the State Senate.
In a petition, Iowans for Gun Safety called for the House members to vote against the bill. According to KCCI, the group said it does not expect the Senate to pass the bill.
Jake Highfill, who proposed the bill, 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 further said that, according to the bill, “direct supervision” is “supervision provided by another person who maintains visual and verbal contact at all times with the supervised person.” Speaking with the Washington Post, Highhfill said, “Allowing people to learn at a young age the respect that a gun commands is one of the most important things you can do.”
State Rep. Kirsten Running-Marquardt, speaking against the bill, said, “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.” Safety concerns were raised by those against the bill, citing the incident where a 9 year old shot her shooting range instructor in Arizona. Speaking about the incident, Rep. Mary Mascher said, “Unfortunately the instructor and the parents made the wrong decision and someone died,” adding, “Every three hours in this country a child dies from gun violence.”
Since they were five years old, Natalie and Meredith Gibson have been shooting pistols with their father. Expressing that they like the sport, they emphasized that it is only dangerous if the weapon is not handled properly. Nathan Gibson, father of the girls said, “It’s about handgun safety. My daughter started learning at a young age how dangerous it can be. They got exposed to them.”
The bill in question is part of several bills regarding gun laws to be debated in the House on Tuesday. Other bills – including HF 2283 that allows residents of Iowa to carry a firearm while they are riding on a snowmobile or an all-terrain vehicle – has been approved by the House.