A bill that establishes a statewide policy on issuing permits to carry guns is among the handful of policy bills lawmakers may consider as the 2010 legislative session winds down in Des Moines. The National Rifle Association has pushed for the legislation, which failed to meet a previous deadline for action and has resurfaced for consideration after two top Democratic leaders co-sponsored a new bill on the issue.
Senate Democratic Leader Mike Gronstal of Council Bluffs says he’s been talking with N.R.A. representatives since August about it. “If you had to assemble a system today relative to the issuance of conceal-to-carry permits, I don’t think anybody thinks we would have assembled a system that has 99 different sets of criteria for that,” Gronstal says. “So I think we’re looking at coming up with something that provides a little bit of uniformity.”
The bill outlines standard criteria which sheriffs in each of Iowa’s 99 counties would use to evaluate those seeking a concealed weapons permit. The bill would force sheriffs to issue the permits if Iowans meet the criteria. Gronstal says that kind of uniformity makes sense.
“My number one job, whether I’ve been in the majority or the minority, has always been when you can achieve good public policy, do it,” Gronstal says. The bill would create a new crime, making it illegal to carry a firearm while you’re drunk or high on drugs. House Republican Leader Kraig Paulsen of Hiawatha says he’s concerned gun opponents may try to tack new gun restrictions onto the bill when it’s debated in the House.