In Iowa, children of all ages are now allowed to carry and operate handguns. The bill passed in the state House of Representatives on Tuesday, February 23 by a vote of 62 to 36. Officially, the bill allows children 14 and under to possess “a pistol, revolver, or the ammunition” under parental supervision. This approval means that the bill is now on its way to the state Senate and in the process of being passed.

“We do not need a militia of toddlers” was the reaction of state Rep. Kirsten Running-Marquardt (D) on the House floor. Running-Marquardt and other statehouse Democrats stood together to oppose this bill in its entirety saying that don’t need a bill that “allows for 1-year olds, 2-year olds, 3-year olds, 4-year olds to operate handguns”.

The Republicans who back this bill argue that the legislation was an issue of parents’ rights and created to right an “injustice in Iowa code” that bars children 14 and under from packing heat. Rep Jake Highfill (R) says this law will be brought in line with regulations for shotguns and rifles, which do not have age restrictions. It is currently a felony for the parent if the child is found in the possession of a handgun at the age of 14 or under.

Highfill sticks up for the bill by stating the fact that the parent will have to be 21 years old and be in “visual and verbal” contact with the armed child.

There have been mixed reviews from Iowa legislators. Rep. Abby Finkenauer (D) says, “Logically, this bill is completely ridiculous” while Rep. Mary Mascher (D) says, “We can’t legislate good parenting…but we can protect our children.”

It’s hard to predict at this point if the bill will pass in the state Senate or not but it has caused a heated debate. This situation brings into question the ethic behind gun control in this country. At a time where tensions are high and everyone is at their wit’s end from social injustice, it may not be the wisest decision to arm the youth. Others argue that this rise in the socio-political climate is the exact cause for this preemptive arming of our nation’s children. Hopefully, the right decision will be made.

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