NRA wants looser gun laws


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Despite a new law taking effect next month that loosens regulations on gun-owners in Iowa, the National Rifle Association and a state firearms group are pushing for more.

But public-safety officials aren't keen on the new proposals.

During the upcoming state Legislature's session, the groups will ask for numerous changes to Iowa's gun laws. Their legislative priorities include allowing law-abiding citizens to possess firearms without a permit, allowing firearms on public property, and letting Iowans use deadly force as a consequence-free defense tactic, among others.

"It's mainly good for individual safety," said NRA spokeswoman Alexa Fritts. "The more people exercising their rights, the better."

The state's new shall-issue law, which restricts sheriffs' discretion on issuing gun permits, will take effect Jan. 1. It will also allow gun owners to openly carry their weapons, carry long guns, and go longer between renewing their permits.

The Iowa Firearms Coalition also supports the national organization's efforts.

"Iowa Firearms Coalition will continue to work … to bring about modifications to Iowa's firearms laws so that all law-abiding citizens may carry a firearm in public, should they choose to do so, without unjust regulations or requirements," coalition President Sean McClanahan wrote in an e-mail.

But members of the law-enforcement community are concerned with both the new law and the new agenda.

"Their goal to loosen gun restrictions is ludicrous," said Johnson County Sheriff Lonny Pulkrabek.

"I fully support a person's right to own and bear arms. I believe that refers to people's ability to protect their person, family, homestead, etc. It does not mean carrying firearms out in all the public places."

Iowa City Police Chief Sam Hargadine said he was concerned that legislators hadn't considered law-enforcement officials' worries when passing the shall-carry law.

"I don't think the legislators cared what law enforcement's opinion is," he said.

Local gun-owners said they support the new laws.

Clint Hartsock, an employee of Fin and Feather, 125 Highway 1 W., and a member of the NRA, said he doesn't think there will be any issues with gun owners openly carrying in public.

"People just aren't going to do it," he said. "You don't want the bad guys to know you have a firearm."

Joel Neuendorf, the vice president of the University of Iowa's Hawkeye Hunting and Fishing Interest Group, said he approves of the new legislation, though he doesn't have complaints about how the laws are now.

"It eases your life if you're going out hunting," he said. "Now, you don't have to lock everything away, which is kind of a burden."

However, several UI students said the new proposals are concerning.

"It makes me feel frightened for my safety," said UI sophomore Kelsey Stefani. "It could lead to a rise in gun-related crimes and accidents."

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