Legislation advanced by House Republicans would allow guns to be locked in cars on school property. (Photo illustration via Canva)

The Iowa House passed a bill that permits gun owners with a permit to carry to keep their firearm in their car while on public university or community college grounds or while visiting a public school. Gun owners with a permit could also keep a handgun in their vehicle while dropping off or picking up their child from a K-12 school. The bill’s Republican supporters believe that this measure is necessary to safeguard the Second Amendment rights of responsible gun owners, while Democrats argue that the lawmakers should focus on preventing gun violence and making schools more secure, especially after the Nashville school attack that killed six people.

Additionally, the bill has a provision that prohibits public universities and community colleges from passing regulations that would prohibit individuals from having legal weapons in their car on campus. The gun must be locked, and out of sight if the owner is away from the car. Parking lots at correctional facilities, as well as state, county, or city-owned parking lots, would be subject to similar rules. However, the original bill was modified, as private employers were removed from the list of entities allowing employees to store their guns in their cars while in their parking lots. Moreover, private schools and colleges are exempted from the regulations.

The Democrats tried to introduce two amendments to the bill that did not pass. One of the amendments required universal background checks when purchasing firearms, while the other created extreme risk protection orders that allowed for the temporary removal of guns from individuals who posed a threat to others. Governor Bill Lee of Tennessee, a Republican, has supported the latter following the Nashville shooting.

Representative Austin Baeth acknowledged that some consider gun ownership a vital component of American culture, but he believed that the way things stand now, gun violence is a feature of the country’s culture. He added that the government should be promoting gun safety legislation instead of promoting an arms race against each other. Meanwhile, other Democrats expressed concern that the bill would make schools less secure by bringing firearms closer to students and teachers than ever before.

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