County sheriffs would no longer have broad authority to deny gun permit applications if a bill pending in the Iowa House becomes law.  The bill sets up statewide standards for judging who may receive a permit to carry a concealed gun. 

After a two-hour debate, the Iowa Senate overwhelmingly passed the bill Saturday morning on a 44 to four vote.  Senator Steve Sodders, a Democrat from State Center, is also a deputy Marshall County sheriff and Sodders stuck up for his boss and other sheriffs.

“People who have concerns about the sheriff, if they’re not issuing enough concealed weapons permits, can run for sheriff or can get somebody to run against them,” Sodders said.   Sodders, though, wound up voting “yes” for the bill. 

The National Rifle Association backs the bill, but some gun rights advocates in the legislature oppose it.  The measure would require those who get a permit to carry a concealed weapon have training in how to use a gun.  Even though Senator Joe Bolkcom, a Democrat from Iowa City, voted against the bill, he saw the merit in that.

“Currently there’s no requirement that somebody actually have training in how to safely use a fire arm,” Bolkcom says. 

The governor has already signed another gun-related bill that would let police take guns away from those who’ve been convicted of domestic abuse or who’re the subject of a no-contact order.  Some see this new bill as a counterbalance, since it makes the process of getting a concealed weapon permit in Iowa more predictable.  Senator Keith Kreiman, a Democrat from Bloomfield, says it’s common sense to have a statewide standard for concealed weapons permits.

“Many people have worked hard on this agreement which I think will advance the cause of public safety and our Second Amendment rights,” Kreiman said Saturday during senate debate. 

It’s unclear when the House may debate the bill and lawmakers hope to adjourn the 2010 legislative session early this week, perhaps even late tonight or early tomorrow morning.