Reprinted from the Dec. 20 Des Moines Register.
Does Iowa really need to debate guns in childcare centers?
Some things don’t require legislative debate. Some things should be obvious: Loaded firearms don’t belong in childcare settings.
But Iowa has no rules about guns in licensed childcare centers. None. And parents have no right to know whether firearms are present.
So the Department of Human Services has proposed a few rules on the subject. The proposal doesn’t call for prohibiting firearms, as some states do. “While having weapons in any childcare setting is highly discouraged, the department is proposing allowance of weapons and firearms only under specific conditions to ensure the safety of children in care,” the proposed rules state.
Whoa, hold on there!
Gov. Kim Reynolds’ staff has blocked the rules. The governor wants more discussion. She suggests lawmakers may have to hash this one out.
No matter that administrators have the authority to set other rules for childcare operations, on such health and safety issues as hand-washing, pets, seat belts, medications and smoking. But guns? That goes too far.
Here are the proposed rules that are apparently an example of administrative overreach: Guns kept in child-care operations be locked away and kept separate from ammunition. Parents should be notified if a gun is kept on the premises. Any motor vehicles used to transport children shall not contain a loaded gun, and any ammunition in the vehicle shall be kept in a separate, locked container.
Does the governor agree?
“I think we’re going to discuss that,” she told reporters. “I think we want to bring all stakeholders to the table. We haven’t done that. We want to make sure that we’re looking at it from all perspectives, and then decide.”
Bringing all stakeholders to the table and looking at important public-policy issues from all perspectives: That would be a radical departure for the fast-and-furious Legislature, which rammed through all kinds of bills last session.
This is the same Legislature that also transformed Iowa’s guns laws last session, including allowing children to possess a pistol or revolver while under direct supervision of a parent or guardian. The legislation also expands Iowans’ right to use deadly force and allows them to carry concealed weapons in the Iowa Capitol. And it keeps secret the information on whether your child-care provider, babysitter, their strange-acting neighbor or anyone else has a permit to carry a concealed weapon.
So imagine what the Legislature could do on the question of firearms and childcare operations. It’s like giving a toddler a revolver.