Iowa Senator proposes pro-machine gun legislation


Contributed Photo Republican Senator Jason Schultz

Michael Cummings

While the events of the first week of Donald Trump’s presidency have the attention of most Grinnell students honed in on Washington, this past November’s elections are having a dramatic impact on public policy at the local level as well.

With Republicans now controlling all levels of Iowa government, Republican state Senators have wasted no time in introducing a new wave of conservative legislation. One such bill would legalize three types of weapons: short-barreled shotguns, short-barreled rifles and machine guns.

The bill was introduced by Senator Jason Schultz of Schleswig, who introduced it out of a desire to make Iowa law no less strict than Federal law, which already permits possession of those weapons.

Machine guns are guns which are designed to automatically fire bullets in rapid succession. A typical machine gun can fire up to 1,800 bullets in one minute.

The bill has been criticized by various Democratic lawmakers as dangerous, unnecessary and far exceeding the Founding Fathers’ understanding of firearms when the Second Amendment was written.

While Democrats in the state Senate have questioned why anyone would need to own a machine gun, Schultz has maintained that such items would likely not be purchased for actual use of the weapon, but rather as a collector’s item.

Opponents of the bill may take some solace in the fact that the price range for such guns range in the tens of thousands of dollars, thus limiting the ability of most Iowans to purchase one.

The gun bill is just one of many bills introduced by Republican state senators since retaking the chamber earlier this month. All 29 Republican senators co-sponsored a bill to cut state funding to Planned Parenthood. The vote would need 26 votes to pass the 50-seat Senate, meaning its co-sponsors alone are enough to wave it through.

Republican Senator Brad Zaun of Urbandale, a Des Moines suburb, has been especially prolific in introducing legislation this session. Since the session began he has introduced legislation that would ban abortions after 20 weeks, end the statewide retirement plan for public employees, eliminate tenure at public universities and community colleges, require valid IDs to vote and eliminate the state Department of Education as well as Iowa Public Television.

Senator Tim Kapucian, a Republican whose district includes Grinnell, was unavailable to be reached for comment on how he might vote on these pieces of legislation.

Students wishing to learn more about these bills or the current legislative session in Iowa may find the text of the bills and other information at