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Kids of All Ages in Iowa Could Soon Be Allowed to Use Guns

Photograph by Twenty20

Should children of any age be allowed to shoot handguns if they have parental consent and supervision? A surprising number of Iowa politicians think so.

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Under current Iowa law, it's a felony for a parent to allow a child younger than 14 to handle a handgun. But children 14 years and older can legally shoot a revolver or pistol, or handle ammunition.

However, a new bill, which passed the Iowa state House of Representatives 62-36 last week, would allow kids younger than 14 to use handguns and handle ammunition with parental supervision.

The bill still needs to make it through the Iowa state senate but parents would need to be at least 21 years of age and maintain visual and verbal contact with the child while he or she uses a firearm. Children can already use rifles under parental supervision in Iowa, and the state is one of the few that has legislation preventing children from using handguns.

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Some parents are not responsible enough to regulate their kids' actions, opponents of the bill say. Rep. Mary Mascher (D), cited seat belt, smoking and car seat laws, which are passed "for those parents who lack the parenting skills needed to protect their own children."

Rep. Kirsten Running-Marquardt (D), who also opposes the bill, said it "allows for one-year-olds, two-year-olds, three-year-olds, four-year-olds to operate handguns" with parental supervision. "We do not need a militia of toddlers," she said.

Rep. Jake Highfill (R), who supports the bill, told the Washington Post that "allowing people to learn at a young age the respect that a gun commands is one of the most important things you can do." He said that the bill "gives the power back to parents" to make decisions, and that the alternative to not learning about guns early on means "turning 18 with no experience."

Rep. Art Staed (D), who is against the legislation—and a hunter who supports the Second Amendment—said he would not allow his children to have access to guns. He called the legislation a "public health thread" and not a gun rights issue. Children would still not be able to buy a firearm on their own, or operate a handgun without supervision.

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