And then there were three.
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds signed a Constitutional Carry bill into law on Friday afternoon, joining Utah Gov. Spencer Cox and Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte in approving permitless carry measures this year. In doing so, Reynolds made Iowa the 19th state in the nation to allow legal gun owners to lawfully carry without a government permission slip.
The governor had previously opposed Constitutional Carry as recently as 2019, but in her signing statement on Friday Reynolds said that the new law “protects the Second Amendment rights of Iowa’s law-abiding citizens while still preventing the sale of firearms to criminals and other dangerous individuals.”
“This law also takes greater steps to inform law enforcement about an individual’s mental illness helping ensure firearms don’t end up in the wrong hands. We will never be able to outlaw or prevent every single bad actor from getting a gun, but what we can do is ensure law-abiding citizens have full access to their constitutional rights while keeping Iowans safe.”
The measure, which will take effect on July 1st, also makes it a Class D felony to sell, rent or loan a gun to a someone that the seller “knows or reasonably should know” is prohibited from owning firearms. If convicted, the seller of the firearm would be could face up to five years in prison.
Iowa was a key target for gun control group Everytown for Gun Safety in the 2020 elections, when the group pledged to spend at least a million dollars in an attempt to help Democrats capture control of the state House. Instead, Republicans picked up six seats, solidifying their majority in an election where Democrats tried to put gun control on the ballot. Democrats ended up complaining about the Constitutional Carry proposal, but there wasn’t much they could do to stop it.
In addition to the Constitutional Carry measure, Reynolds also signed legislation that forbids lawsuits from being filed that are related to the “lawful design, manufacture, marketing or sale of firearms and firearms accessories.” Gun control groups are pushing for a repeal of the federal Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, which is similar to the bill signed by Reynolds, in the hopes of trying to sue the firearms industry out of existence through junk lawsuits seeking to hold manufacturers and gun stores responsible for the third-party acts of criminals who misuse firearms.
The Constitutional Carry revolution isn’t over yet. The Tennessee legislature has also approved a permitless carry bill, and Gov. Bill Lee was in full support of the language as it made its way through the statehouse. Other states like South Carolina, Texas, and Indiana have also introduced Constitutional Carry bills, but the prospects for passage in those states is far more uncertain.
However, once Tennessee’s Constitutional Carry bill is signed, there’ll be twenty states that recognize the right to both keep and bear arms without a license, while just eight states still maintain restrictive “may-issue” laws that allow broad discretion to police to determine who has a “justifiable need” or “good cause” to receive a carry license. The Supreme Court is considering accepting a challenge to New York’s may-issue law in its conference today, and could announce as early as next Monday whether it will take the case. Iowa’s new law is another sign that, far from being a dead letter, the Second Amendment is still seen as a fundamental right in 2021, just as it was in 1791. Let’s hope that the Supreme Court agrees, and puts the New York carry case on its docket.