An Iowa bill intended to prevent local law enforcement agencies from enforcing federal gun regulations is making its way to the state Senate.
Under the Second Amendment Preservation Act (SAPA), law enforcement agencies that enforce federal gun laws are liable to be penalized with a $50,000 fine, meaning that anyone who believes their Second Amendment rights have been infringed upon can sue their local law enforcement agency. The bill has been approved by a panel of three senators, who added that they intend for changes to made to the bill.
Bill sponsor Senator Zach Nunn said the law is to preserve Iowa state sovereignty and prevent federal overreach.
“We want to protect our law enforcement officers on the front line who are serving the community, but not deputize them as agents of a department or agency to go in and infringe upon Iowans’ Second Amendment constitutional rights,” Nunn said.
Aaron Dorr, a lobbyist for Iowa Gun Owners and a Second Amendment absolutist, told his 300,000 Facebook followers: “What we’re trying to do now with SAPA is perhaps the most consequential gun bill in the history of Iowa politics. We know it’s going to be a major fight because we’re the ones who got this done last session in Missouri.”
SAPA is similar to legislation passed in Missouri last year. The result of that bill is state and local law enforcement agencies reluctant to cooperate with federal agencies because of potential lawsuits and financial losses.
“What we don’t want to have is a city or county go forward and knowingly or directly require law enforcement to work on a federal case that is in violation of either Iowa law or is in violation of the Second Amendment,” Nunn said, referring to federal executive orders from the Biden administration targeting pistol modification restrictions and banning homemade firearm kits.
Blue Springs Police Chief Bob Muenz, president of the Missouri Police Chiefs Association, said law enforcement is hamstrung by the new law, which creates uncertainty about the capacity in which local law enforcement can cooperate with federal agencies.
The result is that Missouri police have ended several partnerships with federal law enforcement to avoid any possible lawsuits.
“It opens up law enforcement and the municipality to potential lawsuits,” Muenz said.
According to Kansas City ATF leader Frederic Winston, the law has a significant impact on interagency cooperation, with over a dozen local and state agencies, including the Missouri State Highway Patrol, withdrawing from an ATF task force.
“ATF has seen impacts that I believe hinder the collaborative partnerships and investigative information sharing that protect the people of Missouri,” Winston’s affidavit read. “SAPA has also impacted ATF’s ability to rely on state and local partners for information unrelated to ATF’s own investigations, including those related to the criminal use, possession, and trafficking of firearms.”
Gun lobbyist organization Iowa Firearms Coalition, along with law enforcement lobbyist groups, remain undecided on the issue.