There was an outcry at the statehouse Wednesday from county sheriffs objecting to a bill they say would make it harder for them to deny permits to carry concealed weapons.
The bill changes Iowa law to say the sheriff shall issue a permit except for a limited list of reasons, including felony convictions and drug addiction. If a permit’s denied a written explanation would be required.
Representative Clel Baudler, a Republican from Greenfield, says there needs to be more consistency statewide in issuing the permits. Dubuque county Sheriff Kenneth Runde said that won’t work. He said if he knows someone in his community has assaulted his wife but never been convicted, he wants to be able to deny a permit.
Runde says:"And we’re going to give people like that permits to carry? That’s not gonna happen, and I won’t give ’em to those people. Just because they didn’t get convicted ’cause their wives wouldn’t testify, doesn’t give them a right to carry a gun that they may end up using in a domestic violence situation."
Dewey Hildebrandt is sheriff of Bremer County. Hildebrandt says there are some cases where people might not have been found by the courts to be mentally unstable or unfit, there are situations where the sheriffs know the individuals personally and they are not the type they would want to see carrying weapons.
Story County Sheriff Paul Fitzgerald said explaining why a permit is denied could interfere with criminal investigations. "Taking the discretion away from sheriffs who have the intimate knowledge is going to be a disservice to the people in those communities," Fitzgerald says. Fitzgerald says the responsibility has got to fall back into the the sheriff and the sheriff has to stand up on why he did not give the person a permit.
Representative Baudler, a retired state trooper, says sheriffs are protecting their turf. He cited an example of permits unfairly denied for no apparent reason, including a prison guard who was not allowed to carry a concealed weapon for private protection outside the prison.