by Mac William Bishop and Kristen Dahlgren
DES MOINES, Iowa — "We do not need a militia of toddlers."
Those were the words of Iowa State Representative Kirsten Running-Marquardt, on the floor of the legislature in Des Moines last week.
She was responding to proposed changes to state gun laws that currently restrict children under the age of 14 from using handguns.
The reaction to the changes — which would allow children of all ages to handle deadly weapons with adult supervision — was intense and immediate, as Iowa entered the national debate over gun control last week, with supporters championing the new law as a common-sense measure that would encourage safe handling of firearms.
"This is not about giving our children the combo to the gun safe," said Brian Hood, head coach of the Central Iowa Scholastic Shooters, a youth sport-shooting league. "This is about allowing them in a supervised scenario, to learn a great sport."