Jul 20, 2022 - News

A gun shop is proposed next to Iowa's governors' mansion

A photo of Terrace Hill.

A gun sales business would operate out of a home across the street from Terrace Hill, the Iowa governor's residence, under a proposal that goes before Des Moines' Zoning Board of Adjustment next week. Photo: Jason Clayworth/Axios

A federally licensed firearms sales business would operate out of a home that's across the street from Terrace Hill, under a Des Moines resident's proposal.

Why it matters: It could launch a battle about local governments' ability to limit where or how guns are sold.

  • On Monday, the city's legal department was directed to research and provide the city council with confidential advice about the matter.

What's happening: Elizabeth and Travis Aslin have appealed to ZBOA for a conditional use permit.

  • It would allow their home at 2422 Forest Dr. to be used for online firearm sales and on-premise customer pickups.
  • A public hearing is scheduled for July 27.

State of play: Legislation signed by Gov. Kim Reynolds in recent years limits DSM's ability to regulate gun businesses.

  • Local governments are prohibited from regulating the storage of weapons or ammunition under a 2020 law.
  • A new law this year prohibits cities from enforcing many restrictions against "no impact, home-based business" — essentially any that don't exceed municipal occupancy limits or generate parking issues.

What they're saying: Mayor Frank Cownie and Councilperson Josh Mandelbaum — the sponsors of Monday's council action — are concerned about the potential proliferation of home gun stores, partly because of changes in the law, they told Axios Tuesday.

  • They could be particularly problematic in school zones or next door to prominent public figures, including people like the governor or supreme court justices, Mandelbaum said.

Flashback: Cownie and Mandelbaum have been longtime advocates for stricter gun control policies.

  • They've voiced support to ban some high-capacity weapons.

The other side: Travis told Axios the business is a hobby that has resulted in the sale of only two guns in the last five years when he previously lived in Grimes — and where city approval to operate was not required.

  • Cops, firefighters or EMTs are his only customers. He's willing to limit his in-person gun delivery to places like sporting stores if necessary to satisfy DSM requirements, he said.

Of note: The governor's office did not respond to a request for comment from Axios Tuesday.

A photo of a meeting notice.
Neighbors, including Gov. Kim Reynolds and Terrace Hill officials, were recently sent a meeting notice about a proposed home gun sales business in their neighborhood. The governor has not publicly voiced opposition to the plan. Photo courtesy of Travis Aslin

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