New Gun Law Means Questions About Security at the Statehouse

DES MOINES, Iowa  --  Iowa Governor Terry Branstad did not say on Monday whether he will sign an expanded gun rights bill, but hinted he could.

"Generally, I think the people that crafted this bill were very careful in trying to craft something that was reasonable and something they felt I could support," the governor told reporters at his weekly news conference.

The bill could bring a host of changes: it would legalize a Stand Your Ground provision that allows a person to shoot if threatened by another person, permits children to shoot a gun if under adult supervision, and keeps confidential Iowans who hold a weapons permit.

It would also let Iowans with a valid weapons permit carry a concealed weapon into public buildings, like the Iowa Capitol building. Opponents, like State Representative Ako Abdul-Samad, worry about safety of those inside the building, especially during heated debate on the House or Senate floor.

He also doesn't want to see legislators feel the need to carry for protection.

"Let me put it this way: I hope not," Abdul-Samad said, "Because if we're sitting on the floor and something does happen from the balcony, you get caught in an 'O.K Corral.' situation."

He was referring to the legendary shootout that included a flurry of bullets between law enforcement and outlaws in the 1800s.

The governor said he didn't see a need for additional troopers for security in the Statehouse if the public were allowed to carry guns, nor did he say he feels safety will be an issue.

"I feel safe and secure here in the Capitol. And I think they (troopers) do a great job. I don't see that changing," the governor said.

The governor travels with a state-provided trooper security team.

Questions will still need to be addressed about Statehouse security if the governor signs the gun rights bill:

Will security guards now be able to carry guns, since the public would be able to do so? Security guards are retired law enforcement, who have been trained with weapons.

Who will review permits as people try to enter through security at the Statehouse? Troopers or security guards? If it is troopers, will that necessitate stationing more troopers in the building to handle the additional duties?

Should there be more signs posted on the first floor (as Abdul-Samad requests) that tell visitors to go downstairs and go through security, rather than entering through an unlocked door or having someone open the door for them?

Captain Mark Logsdon, who is the head of security for the Capitol complex, said those decisions will still need to be made.