Gun rights bill passes Iowa Senate, likely headed to Branstad

The Iowa Senate voted Tuesday to approve legislation making sweeping changes to the state’s firearms laws, including a controversial stand-your-ground provision authorizing deadly force.

House File 517, which has already passed the Iowa House, was approved on a 33-17 vote.  Because the bill was amended, it must return to the House. But House Republican leaders are expected to accept the changes, which means it will likely be headed soon to Gov. Terry Branstad, who is expected to sign it.

The language on standing one’s ground says a law-abiding person does not have a duty to retreat before using deadly force with a gun, which prompted criticism that it will lead to an increase in gun violence. The legislation’s supporters said those worries were unfounded.

“The use of deadly force or any force has to be justified in defense of yourself or another, and the force has to be reasonable. Those two things don’t change here,” said Sen. Dan Dawson, R-Council Bluffs, the bill’s floor manager, who is also an Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation agent.

The legislation specifies that reasonable force, including deadly force, may be used  even if an alternative course of action is available, if the alternative action entails a risk to life or safety, or the life or safety of a third party.