A bill that would allow children of all ages in Iowa to use handguns will soon be heading to the state Senate for consideration.
On Feb. 23, Iowa’s House of Representatives voted 62-36 to pass the bill, which would allow children to handle “a pistol, revolver or the ammunition” with parental supervision. The bill defines supervision as “supervision provided by another person who maintains visual and verbal contact at all times with the supervised person.”
KCCI-Des Moines recently covered the issue.
The bill has been seen as an issue of parents’ rights and aims to remedy “an injustice in Iowa code” that prohibits children under the age of 14 from handling handguns and pistols. Under the current law, there is no restriction on the ages of children who use rifles and shotguns with parental supervision. However, it is a felony for a parent or guardian to allow children under the age of 14 to handle a handgun.
Children who are 14 or older may handle pistols with parental supervision.
“Allowing people to learn at a young age the respect that a gun commands is one of the most important things you can do,” Iowa State Rep. Jake Highfill (R) told The Washington Post.
Highfill also says the bill gives parents the power to make decisions about when their children learn to handle handguns.
“We want to make sure we turn power back to the parents, allow them to make the decision if their children are ready or not,” Highfill said. “If they don’t want to shoot or teach them gun safety, that’s also their choice.”
State democrats opposed the bill, which has been a hotly debated issue in Iowa. They cited safety concerns with young children using handguns.
“We do not need a militia of toddlers,” Rep. Kirsten Running-Marquardt (D) stated in opposition to the bill. In addition, she noted that handguns were not designed to fit the hands of small children.
The law does not allow children to purchase firearms on their own.
This bill highlights the important need to teach children about the correct ways to handle and respect firearms. Even if it doesn’t become law, it is the responsibility of every parent, and gun owner, to act in a way that models secure and safe firearm use.
The rule “If it’s there, kids will find it” should always apply in a house with children and guns. Children operating handguns should always be under the strict supervision of an adult who is trained and competent in using a firearm.