By Addie Olson
A bill that would make gun owner information private passed unanimously through committee Wednesday. The legislators that introduced the bill believe that making the names of firearm owners available to the public puts them at risk.
"People could be targeted because they have a permit and potentially have a firearm, or because they do not have a permit and potentially do not have a firearm," said Rep. Matt Windschitl, (R) Missouri Valley.
The data on who owns guns would still be collected, but it would not be available to the public.
"This is not going to prohibit sheriff departments or the Department of Public Safety from releasing statistical data on how many permits have been issued, denied or revoked, and they will still have a master record," said Windschitl.
The bill also tightens up penalties for straw buyers. Anyone who can't legally purchase a gun and has someone else buy it for them would face a Class D felony charge.
"This would bring it into the Iowa code and strengthen our laws we have in the books to make sure that people in Iowa who are prohibited from having weapons, are not gaining access to them and do not have them," said Windschitl.
Jeff Burkett of the Iowa Firearms Coalition said he knows of gun owners who have been targeted in the past. The group is in full support of the legislation.
"When you have your name and address published in a manner in which anyone can go out and receive that information, and utilize the information, you can potentially be a target," said Burkett.
The Polk County Sheriff's Department estimates that approximately 16,500 people currently hold a valid permit to carry.