It was certainly a good Friday for Iowans who want to buy handguns but can’t pass a background check.
Governor Kim Reynolds signed House File 756, making permits optional for buying handguns or carrying concealed weapons in Iowa, and House File 621, shielding firearms manufacturers and dealers from lawsuits related to gun violence.
Although Reynolds had postured as undecided on the permitless carry bill, telling reporters her staff would review the legislation carefully, I didn’t talk to any political insider in either party who had any doubt she would sign it. The only question was when. The answer turned out to be, right before the Easter holiday weekend, when fewer people would notice.
Republican lawmakers helped the governor out, waiting nearly two weeks to send her the gun bills, so she wouldn’t have to sign them while mass shootings in Georgia and Colorado were still dominating the national news. (While the Iowa legislature is in session, the governor must decide within three days whether to sign or veto bills on her desk.)
Making it easier for Iowans to buy guns with no screening or training might seem like a risky political move, given the overwhelming popular support for mandatory background checks and Reynolds’ past claims to support permits. The governor is clearly betting that pleasing the gun lobby–just about the only supporters of this legislation–will pay off in the next election.