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Legislators fine with local gun ordinances

BY ALLIE JOHNSON | MARCH 10, 2011 7:20 AM

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Some lawmakers said they have no problem with local governments enacting ordinances banning guns on their property, despite a new state law easing restrictions on obtaining a gun permit.

Iowa City is one of 10 cities in the state to ban guns on its property, according to the Iowa Firearms Coalition, a pro-firearms organization. Another 13 Iowa cities are considering a ban, and eight have either rejected or tabled one.

The moves come just months after Iowa officially became a “shall-issue” state Jan. 1, restricting sheriffs’’ discretion on who to give a gun permit to. Both Iowa City and Johnson County officials voted to ban guns from their properties.

Rep. Dave Jacoby, D-Coralville, said he is in favor of counties and cities choosing what they want to do with the “shall-issue” law and said he’s a firm believer in home rule.

“I think every local entity should be able to pass some rules in their region,” Jacoby said.

He said he thinks cities and counties banding together to not allow firearms in their municipal buildings is an effective move.

“It sends a message that those government offices are not conducting businesses that conceal weapons,” Jacoby said. “They are trying to say this is a place of civil discourse, and we prefer not to have weapons in the building.”

Sen. Randy Feenstra, R-Hull, said he does not have a problem with ordinances counteracting the “shall-issue” law on a local level.

“I think it is local control, and I think if mayors or counties are deciding [to do this] it’s the best way to go,” Feenstra said. “I think it’s good to see communities deciding what they do or don’t want.”

The Iowa City City Council voted unanimously to ban guns on city property Feb. 15.

City Councilor Regenia Bailey said she thinks cities have the right to put an ordinance into place against a law they don’t agree with.

“I certainly believe towns and counties should have the right to control what they want to do, which is how we came up with our ban with guns on county property,” she said. “I think it’s clear that there’s some concern out there, and we take this very seriously.”

But in Davenport, officials and residents have embraced the new shall-issue law, said Davenport City Councilor Raymond Ambrose. The community has seen a limited amount of controversy over it.

“For most of the people, the right to carry is something they have desired [in] the past, and I think we are pretty comfortable and don’t see any problems,” Ambrose said.

More gun-related proposals are making their way through the Legislature. Bills to allow Iowans to use reasonable force to protect themselves in any public place without first having to try to flee, banning government officials from removing firearms during a state of emergency, and mandating training on a firearms range for permit-holders made it past the House and Senate funnels last week.

DI reporter Jake Krzeczowski contributed to this report.


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