State Rep. Matt Windschitl, (R-Missouri Valley) introduced House File 384 to the Iowa State House last week. The bill would allow state residents to legally possess firearm suppressors so long as they are properly registered with the federal government.
Currently, The Hawkeye State prohibits private citizens from owning an otherwise legal suppressor.
It is one of just 11 states that continue to ban suppressors. The only slim exceptions are for devices “possessed and used by a person solely for the purpose of shooting a deer pursuant to an approved city special deer population control plan.”
As the law stands today, possession of a suppressor is a Class D felony, which is punishable by as much as $7,500 in fines and up to five years in prison.
In recent years, suppressor sales have seen tremendous growth and both the numbers for companies producing them and of individuals purchasing them have skyrocketed. Overall, the number of legally registered suppressors in the U.S. increased 37 percent between March 2012 and April 2013, to 494,452.
Of Iowa’s six neighbors, most support private possession of suppressors. Just Illinois and Minnesota do not. This wasn’t always the case. Missouri only legalized the devices in 2008.
While introducing the bill to the House subcommittee, Windschitl stated that a suppressor is a useful tool for preventing hearing damage and reducing noise pollution emanating from gun ranges.
In a statement given to Guns.com, Windschitl explained the reason behind the bill:
I have been working on this issue for some time now with the help of the NRA and Iowa Firearms Coalition. In times past we have not had much success moving this topic forward, but over the past few years we have been able to make some progress and sportsmen in Iowa are noticing.
It seems as though almost every conversation I have had in recent months in regards to Second Amendment issues the topic of legalizing suppressors has come up. Many Second Amendment supporters across the state are ready to finally lift the redundant ban on suppressors Iowa has and allow Iowans the opportunity to better exercise their rights.
While moving any legislation can be an arduous process I am very hopeful that we can get traction on this issue and get a bill to the Governors desk before the end of session.
Though, not everyone agrees with his assessment.
Subcommittee member Rep. Beth Wessel-Kroeschell, (D-Ames), said suppressor-equipped firearms could make it more difficult for people to find safety during shootings.
“When they heard the shots at Newtown, you had teachers, heroic teachers, pushing kids to safety because they heard the shots,” she said.
In a statement to Guns.com about Iowa’s pending legislation, Larry G. Keane, National Shooting Sports Foundation senior vice president and general counsel, said the following:
NSSF supports legislation to allow hunters and target shooters to use suppressors for hunting and target shooting. Firearm sound suppressors help reduce the noise of gunfire to hearing safe levels making shooting safer, more enjoyable and shooting ranges more neighborly.
Using a suppressed firearm for hunting can help to protect the hunter’s hearing and allow more effective tracking of prey, improve accuracy, and quicker follow up shot. We look forward to sharing our views with the Iowa legislature.
HF384 has passed committee and will be heard on the house floor in coming weeks.