Iowa may allow children to have guns

The Iowa measure would allow young children to have handguns.
The Iowa measure would allow young children to have handguns.

Should an 11-year-old be allowed to carry a handgun? What about a kindergartner?

    Iowa lawmakers are considering a measure that would make it legal for children of any age to possess handguns. The current law states that a child must be 14 or older to possess a pistol, revolver or the ammunition.
    The bill under consideration lifts that restriction, saying that parents may allow anyone under the age of 21 to “possess a pistol or revolver or the ammunition ... for any lawful purpose while under the direct supervision of the parent or guardian or spouse who is 21 years of age or older, or while the person receives instruction in the proper use thereof from an instructor 21 years of age or older, with the consent of such parent or guardian or spouse.”
    A parent who allows a child under the age of 14 to use a gun “shall be strictly liable to an injured party for all damages resulting from the possession of the pistol or revolver or ammunition,” the bill says.
    The legislation passed Iowa’s House by a 62-36 vote on Feb. 23, according to the state website. It must now go before the state's Senate.
    An analysis by Iowa House Republicans says that direct supervision “means supervision provided by another person who maintains visual and verbal contact at all times with the supervised person.”
    The debate over this bill can be seen on the Iowa state website. During deliberations, Rep. Kirsten Running-Marquardt,a Democrat, pointed out that law prohibits children from getting married and driving cars. She questioned the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Jake Highfill, a Republican, about the qualifications needed to be an instructor for children.
    Highfill said that parents would be able to find qualified instructors. He said the bill was aimed at returning “power back to the parents …to choose where and when they [children] can shoot with a parent or guardian.”
     Other defenders of the bill also spoke of parents’ rights to allow children to have guns. But not everyone agreed.
     “That’s all very well and good if every parent in Iowa is ... the perfect parent,” noted Rep. Bruce Hunter, a Democrat. “And if that were the case, there wouldn’t be any need for this conversation at all. The fact of the matter is that not every parent in the state of Iowa is a good parent.” While Hunter is for teaching gun safety to children, “it should be age appropriate.”


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