Gov. Terry Branstad said Friday he does not believe the 2013 legislative session will produce any significant changes in Iowa’s gun laws.
The five-term Republican said he supports the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, but he doesn’t see a pressing need to strengthen state laws to protect the rights of gun owners.
“I know that there are people who feel strongly on both sides of this issue,” the governor said during a taping of Iowa Public Television’s “Iowa Press” show, “but I’m really focused on the things that I think are the most important to grow the Iowa economy, and that is jobs, reforming and reducing the property tax, and reforming education.”
Branstad said his administration has worked closely with Iowa school districts to bolster safety in the wake of a deadly shooting incident at a Newtown, Conn., elementary school last month that claimed the lives of 26 people. He said additional steps to reduce violence in schools should be addressed via anti-bullying efforts and improvements to mental health services through the current statewide system redesign.
“Even though the NRA endorsed my opponent in the last election, I believe in protecting individuals’ rights,” the governor said. “I also think that the issues of violence in the schools can best be addressed by things like the bullying prevention summit that we had and the reform that we’re doing of the mental health system to try to identify and help people with mental problems.”
Branstad also noted that he is very careful in evaluating requests from paroled felons who apply to have their gun rights restored “to make sure that we don’t have dangerous people getting possession of weapons.”
Representatives in the Iowa House, where Republican hold a 53-46 majority, indicated they have plans to bring back gun-rights measures that failed last year and craft new legislation in response to President Barack Obama’s new gun-control initiatives. But a key state senator said the bills don’t have a chance in the Iowa Senate, where Democrats still have a 26-24 edge.
Earlier this week, Obama proposed major changes to federal gun laws, including re-instating an assault-weapons ban, restricting access to high-capacity ammunition and requiring gun buyers to undergo background checks.