An Iowa legislative panel unanimously approved a measure Monday that would let active duty members of the military buy handguns without going through the usual permit process.

A three-member House subcommittee approved the bill, which will now go to the House Veterans Affairs Committee.

Currently, any person buying a handgun must first obtain a permit, meet certain requirements and pay an annual fee. The bill would allow active duty members of the military to skip that process.

Rep. Dwayne Alons, R-Hull, said the bill would align Iowa's law with 37 other states that let active duty members of the military buy firearms without permits, allowing any active duty member to enter the state and make a firearm purchase while avoiding Iowa's permit process.

Military training these individuals receive and the firearm knowledge they possess makes the permit process obsolete, he said.

Ruth Ann Gaines, D-Des Moines, and Mark Brandenburg, R-Council Bluffs, agreed to move forward with the bill. Gaines said she supports it specifically because it still limits who can skip the permit process, a concern for her with past firearm legislation.

Alons estimated up to 10,000 National Guard members in the state would be affected.

Last year, Alons proposed a bill that would have allowed veterans to buy handguns without getting a permit, but the proposal stalled after receiving subcommittee approval. Alons said he kept that in mind in drafting the current bill and hopes the exemption could later be expanded to veterans.

"I thought this was more aligned with the other states and it would be a starting point to get into that discussion again," he said.