Siouxland delegation split on advancing gun bill

Published: Jun. 22, 2022 at 6:25 PM CDT
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SIOUX CITY (KTIV) - Only one of Siouxland’s lawmakers, Republican Sen. Joni Ernst of Iowa, voted to move a gun compromise bill forward.

The bill would close a loophole that currently allows some domestic abusers to legally possess firearms. It’s far from the wish list Democrats wanted, but it also might be difficult to explain to the most conservative voters.

The bill would not create any red flag laws, though it will give money to the 19 states that currently have them to beef up the program. The idea is more states would adopt those laws if the federal government was putting up part of the bill.

The bill would require more stringent background checks for buyers under 21. In those cases, the national background check system would check juvenile and mental health records before issuing a decision.

But perhaps the most tangible measure would be closing the so-called “boyfriend loophole,” which advocates say exists right here in Iowa, Nebraska and South Dakota.

The loophole doesn’t actually have anything to do with gender, but current law allows certain non-married and non-cohabiting abusers to possess firearms.

This bill would extend the ban on firearms to anyone who recently had an intimate or romantic relationship. In other words, even if an abuser moved out, they’d still be prohibited from having a gun for five years if they were convicted of a domestic violence offense.

But it’s that language that’s concerned Iowa Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley. Grassley voted against moving the bill forward last night. He says, in part, because of vague language concerning the dating violence loophole.

“Almost all of it I think I can say is good. But I have specific concerns about safeguarding constitutional due process rights, after all of the Bill of Rights and the Constitution is a very important part of our society,” said Grassley.

Grassley says he’s undecided on how he’ll vote during final passage of the bill.

KTIV also spoke with South Dakota Sen. Mike Rounds. While Grassley is still deciding, Rounds, a Republican senator as well, says he won’t vote for the bill.

“We’re not talking about felony charges here. We’re talking about misdemeanor charges. And I just think anybody who is subject to losing their Second Amendment rights based on a misdemeanor charge, I think that’s going too far,” said Sen. Rounds.

According to the Associated Press, more than $2 billion would be given to train staff for mental health services in schools. Some of that money would be earmarked explicitly for school safety.

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