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Supervised Children in Iowa Would be Able to Fire Handguns Under Proposal

(CNN)Children of all ages in Iowa would be allowed to use handguns with adult supervision under a measure approved this week by legislators in the state's Republican-controlled House.

The measure, approved 62-36 on Tuesday with both Republican and Democratic support, would change the current law that forbids anyone under age 14 from using handguns.

Supporters say the bill 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 Rep. Jake Highfill, a Republican, during floor debate this week.

"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.

Opponents questioned 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 Rep. Kirsten Running-Marquardt, a Democrat, told legislators during debate.

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

State Rep. Mary Mascher, another Democrat, said it was unsafe for minors to handle guns. She 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.

"It's about handgun safety. My daughters started learning at a young age what a handgun is about and how dangerous it can be," Gibson told CNN affiliate KCCI.

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. They now shoot for sport and enjoy firing handguns because the weapons are smaller, but are always mindful that they need to be handled carefully, their father said.

"It's only dangerous if you handle it wrong," Natalie told the station. "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.

Federal law provides no minimum age requirement for the purchase and ownership of long guns, such as rifles and shotguns.

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