caving to the gun lobby and extremists in the legislature, Gov. Reynolds has failed her constituents and made clear that she stands with the gun
DES MOINES, Iowa -- Gov. Kim Reynolds signed a bill Friday that will make handgun carry permits and background checks on unlicensed sales optional in Iowa.
As of July 1, people can buy handguns from private non-licensed sources such as websites, gun shows and individuals without a permit or background check. People also will be able to carry a gun into public places such as grocery stores and malls without prior safety training or a permit.
Reynolds said in a statement that the bill protects the Second Amendment rights of Iowa’s law-abiding citizens.
"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,” she said.
Democrats opposed the bill, calling it a dangerous reversal of commonsense safety measures that have helped keep Iowa safer than states that have lifted such restrictions.
“By caving to the gun lobby and extremists in the legislature, Gov. Reynolds has failed her constituents and made clear that she stands with the gun lobby over public safety,” said Erica Fletcher, a volunteer with Iowa Moms Demand Action, a gun safety advocacy group. “We’ve seen what happens when states weaken their gun laws, gun violence goes up and people die.”
Currently 22 states have laws that require background checks for all handgun sales at the point of sale and/or as part of a permit requirement, including Iowa for now. The remaining states, including Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri and Wisconsin, do not require background checks on all sales.
Reynolds, a Republican, has spoken in the past in support of Iowa's current background checks and permits to carry handguns. However she has rarely vetoed measures supported by her GOP colleagues.
The bill passed the Iowa Senate with Republican votes only on March 22 at the same as a man was shooting customers at a Boulder, Colorado, grocery store. Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa, who bought the Ruger AR-556 he used six days before the attack, is facing murder charges.
It cleared the House with the backing of only one Democrat.
By ending the permit and background requirements, the state will no longer check to ensure a person obtaining a gun from a non-licensed seller or those carrying a gun aren't disqualified from ownership due to past felonies or abuses. The bill also eliminates firearms training now required to obtain a gun permit.
The process for buying guns from federally licensed dealers doesn't change and still requires background checks.
Republicans insisted the measure recognizes that keeping and bearing arms is a fundamental right for law-abiding citizens and that com
Seven officers involved in the in-custody death of a Black jail inmate in Texas whose family members say may have been suffering a mental health crisis have been fired, a sheriff said.
The detention officers violated sheriff's office policies and procedures leading up to the death of Marvin Scott III, Collin County Sheriff Jim Skinner said in a news release Thursday. An eighth officer resigned. The names and races of the officers haven’t been released.
Scott, 26, was arrested March 14 at an outlet mall in Allen on a charge of possessing less than two ounces of marijuana, authorities have said. Allen officers took Scott to a hospital because he was reportedly acting erratically. Scott was released and police took him to the county jail.
While at the jail, Scott began to exhibit “some strange behavior,” Skinner said at a March 19 news conference. Detention officers placed Scott on a restraint bed, used pepper spray and covered his face with a spit mask. Scott became unresponsive at some point and later was pronounced dead at a hospital.
The Collin County medical examiner’s office has not yet released a cause of death for Scott. The Texas Rangers were continuing to investigate Scott’s death, according to Skinner’s statement.
Skinner has said the spit mask used on Scott fit over his head and had a net on it. Law enforcement's use of face coverings such as spit hoods on people — and the frequent reliance on police to respond to mental health emergencies — drew new attention last year following Daniel Prude’s suffocation in Rochester, New York. The mesh coverings have been linked to other deaths.
At his news conference last month, Skinner said there is video of the interaction between Scott and detention officers and added that the Texas Rangers also has the video and is reviewing it. Capt. Nick Bristow, a spokesman for the sheriff's office, said in an email Friday that the video is from inside the jail and that it would not be made public at this time. Skinner has said the sheriff's office would not comment on any specific details related to the case because of ongoing investigations.
“The death of this young man is a profound tragedy and we have an obligation to uncover the full and complete truth, firm, concrete and factual information," Skinner said last month.
Family members have said that Scott had schizophrenia and may have been suffering a mental health crisis. Scott’s family has hired a forensic pathologist to conduct an independent autopsy.
Civil rights lawyer Lee Merritt, who is representing Scott's family, has said he thinks Scott was jailed for marijuana possession because he was Black and viewed as a criminal rather than as someone in crisis.
In recent years, various law enforcement agencies and local and state governments around the U.S. have instituted policies limiting or ending arrests for small amounts of marijuana. Four states, including New Jersey and Arizona, last year passed referenda allowing recreational cannabis, and the U.S. House in December approved a bill to decriminalize and tax marijuana at the federal level. The legislation later stalled in the Senate.
A statement Thursday by Merritt noted that Scott's funeral was Wednesday.
“Just one day after the funeral of Marvin Scott III, the Collin County Sheriff has fired seven detention officers in connection with his death,” the statement said. “We are pleased with this decision and consider this progress.”
But the path forward on Capitol Hill for such a massive spending bill is precarious.
If Democrats want to move swiftly, they'll likely need to do so using reconciliation, a procedural budget tool that allows passage of legislation without the necessary 60 votes to overcome a Senate filibuster. But Biden needs to hang onto moderate Democrats because a single Democratic defection in the evenly split Senate could sink the bill's chances.
Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., pushed to include more moderate proposals in the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill and may seek similar concessions on infrastructure.
"Infrastructure, my God, when you think about it, that pothole doesn't have an R or D name on it, it'll blow your tire and ruin your car, it doesn't care," Manchin said during a panel last week. "So, don't you think infrastructure is something that could bring us together?"
MORE: Biden holds 1st Cabinet meeting the day after proposing sweeping infrastructure plan
Manchin also cautioned his colleagues against adding unrelated items to the bill because he said he believes an infrastructure package could get a large, bipartisan backing "unless you throw everything on top of it, all of your pent-up social frustration."
And therein lies the challenge in the House, where Biden can only afford to lose three Democrats given the tight margins and some progressive members are calling on the administration to go bigger and bolder.
PHOTO: Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez listens during a news conference to introduce the "Puerto Rico Self-Determination Act of 2021" at Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill, March 18, 2021.
Alex Wong/Getty Images
Alex Wong/Getty Images
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez listens during a news conference to introduce the "Puerto Rico Sel...Read More
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., tweeted Tuesday that Biden's plan falls short of expectations.
"This is not nearly enough. The important context here is that it's $2.25T spread out over 10 years," Ocasio-Cortez tweeted after details of the plan were released. "For context, the COVID package was $1.9T for this year *alone,* with some provisions lasting 2 years. Needs to be way bigger."
The Congressional Progressive Caucus called the plan a "welcome first step," but one that "can and should be substantially larger in size and scope."
"We have a limited window to get this done -- we must seize our chance to build back better with economy-wide investments that work for working families and communities of color," Rep. Pramila Jayapal, chair of the caucus, said in a statement Tuesday.
PHOTO: Rep. Pramila Jayapal speaks during a House Judiciary subcommittee on antitrust on Capitol Hill, July 29, 2020.
Mandel Ngan/AP, File
Mandel Ngan/AP, File
Rep. Pramila Jayapal speaks during a House Judiciary subcommittee on antitrust on Capitol Hill i...Read More
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell pushed back on that notion.
"I don't think they have a mandate to do what they're doing," he said at a press event in Kentucky on Thursday. "If you look at the results in Congress, the 50-50 Senate and maybe a three-vote majority in the House, I don't think the American people gave them a mandate to drive our country all the way to the political left."
While Biden has been clear that he'll seek bipartisan support, during a conversation with Politico on Thursday, White House chief of staff Ron Klain said it is not necessarily a requirement.
"In the end, let me be clear: The president was elected to do a job. And part of that job is to get this country ready to win the future. That's what he's going to do," Klain said. "We know what has bipartisan support in the country. And so we're gonna try our best to get bipartisan support here in Washington."
Klain said the president's proposal is meant as a starting point for further conversation.
MORE: Biden takes the long view: 'It's a matter of timing,' he says of presidency, agenda
Several rank-and-file Senate Democrats are largely in favor of the Biden proposal and multiple members touted the bill's historic nature and praised it for being a job creator in statements released Wednesday.
But even those championing the bill are also hoping to see changes to it.
Biden has proposed funding the massive plan by implementing tax reforms. The most notable would raise taxes on large corporations to pay for the bill, walking back some of the corporate tax cuts pushed through by the Trump administration. Biden has promised that no one earning under $400,000 would see a tax raise to pay for the infrastructure proposal.
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