Children in Iowa may be able to fire handguns with supervision

Both Meredith and Natalie Gibson, ages 12 and 10 respectively, first fired a gun at a range with adult supervision when they were 5 years old.

PTI| Updated: Feb 26, 2016, 21:19 PM IST

Washington: Children of all ages in Iowa would be allowed to use handguns with adult supervision under a controversial bill approved this week by the state's legislators, amid a string of mass shootings in the US.

The bill, approved 62-36 by Iowa's House of Representatives with both Republican and Democratic support, would change the current law that forbids anyone under age 14 from using handguns.

Supporters say the bill passed on Tuesday by the Republican-controlled House is meant to bring the law in line with existing law, which allows children to use long guns only with adult supervision.

"I think this is one of the best bills we've done for Second Amendment rights," said State Representative Jake Highfill, a Republican, during floor debate.

"It returns the power back to where it fully belongs -- back in the hands of parents to make those decisions they are entitled to instead of the government," Highfill said.

Highfill's bill now goes to the state Senate. It is unclear if the measure will pass that chamber, which Democrats control by a slim majority, CNN reported today.

The bill has been a polarising issue in the state with opponents questioning the lack of age limit under the bill.

"We do not have handguns that I am aware of that fit the hands of 1-year-olds, 2-year-olds, 3-year-olds, 4-year-olds to operate handguns," state Representative Kirsten Running- Marquardt, a Democrat, told legislators during debate.

"We do not need a militia of toddlers," Marquardt said.

Another lawmaker Mary Mascher said it was unsafe for minors to handle guns.

The Democrat recalled the case of a 9-year-old girl who accidentally killed her instructor at a Las Vegas gun range when she lost control of an Uzi she was learning to fire.

"Unfortunately the instructor and the parents made the wrong decision and someone died," Mascher said.

But some residents disagree. Nathan Gibson said allowing his daughters to handle guns at an early age was the right thing to do. People like Gibson have been actively lobbying the Legislature to adopt the bill, the report said.

Both Meredith and Natalie Gibson, ages 12 and 10 respectively, first fired a gun at a range with adult supervision when they were 5 years old.

"It's only dangerous if you handle it wrong," Natalie said. "You never point the gun at somebody."

The bill doesn't aim to change the minimum age required to buy a handgun in Iowa. Federal law, with very few exceptions, already prohibits anyone under age 18 from buying or owning a handgun.

The US has witnessed a string of mass killings. Four people were killed and 14 wounded when an employee opened fire at a lawn mower factory in a small Kansas town today.

Last week, a rampage by an Uber driver left six people dead in Michigan. In December, in a terror attack in San Bernardino, California left 14 people dead.