Sunday, May 2, 2010

Iowa Becomes "Shall-Issue" State

On Thurday, April 29th, Iowa Governor Chet Culver signed NRA-backed legislation making Iowa the 37th state that shall issue concealed weapons permits to qualified applicants. Prior to this, permits "may" have been issued by each county sheriff, but sheriffs were not required to do so.

“This bill strikes an appropriate balance, recognizing the rights of law-abiding Iowans guaranteed by the Second Amendment and the duty of local law enforcement officers,” said the big lug, Culver. “We all have a role to play in public safety. I believe this is a good bill that has the potential to keep Iowans safer.”

According to the NRA's bullet points, in addition to changing from a "may-issue" to "shall-issue" process, the new law "will increase the term of a permit from one year to five years; narrow the disqualifying circumstances for a permit to the federal minimum in most cases, while at the same time further narrowing state-specific disqualifiers; prevent the issuing officer from placing limits on or restricting the scope of a carry permit; ensure that denials, suspensions and revocations of permits would be subject to both administrative and judicial review; grant recognition to all valid out-of-state permits; broaden the types of training that would fulfill the state-mandated training requirement for permit applicants; and remove other over-reaching restrictions on gun owners in the Hawkeye State."

While I had some problems with this bill, it DOES set up a uniform state-wide standard for issuing permits. Since the Iowa Constitution mandates that laws have a "uniform operation," this is important. I may have under-stated this importance in previous posts. The new "shall-issue" law will get rid of the 99 different issuance standards uses by each county, and will hopefully get rid of the arbitrary denials of permits by a handful of anti-Second Amendment sheriffs.

One of my beefs with the original bill introduced by the NRA was that it made it a crime to publicly carry your weapon if you were "under the influence of alcohol," yet it gave no quantifiable standard as to what that meant. The version that passed says simply: "A permit issued under this chapter is invalid if the person to whom the permit is issued is intoxicated as provided in section 321J.2, subsection 1." This means, I believe, a blood alcohol concentration over .08, the same to legally drive in Iowa.

Another problem was that the original bill spelled out most of the dreaded federal "Lautenberg Act" into state code. The passed version simply states that a permit can't be issued to an applicant who "[i]s prohibited by federal law from shipping, transporting, possessing, or receiving a firearm." Now if Lautenberg is repealed or struck down as unconstitutional, it would automatically be moot in the state law.

One provision that I liked in the original NRA version that I didn't see in the new law was the section that protected the private information of permit applicants. Apparently the Iowa legislature had a fleeting interest in "sunshine and openness," so long as it is just their constituents' personal information being given out.

There are still philosophical reasons not to entirely like the new law. Even under a "shall-issue" system, supposedly free citizens must ask permission from the state to fully enjoy their God-given right to bear arms.

But, on the whole, I would say that this new law is a step in the right direction. We've seen in other states that once people (including law enforcement personnel) realize that the sky didn't fall with shall-issue, there is a tendency to lessen restrictions on permit holders. Hopefully that trend will continue in Iowa.

Maybe someday Iowa will join Vermont, Alaska, and Arizona in requiring no permit at all. I hope I'm still around to see it.

[Right to Carry map courtesy of NRA-ILA]


  1. You will be, Ben. I can assure you that as long as I have anything to do with it, we will not rest until we reach that goal.

    As for the privacy of records, we did indeed have that dropped from the legislation. We'll go back for it again next year.


  2. Thanks Sean. Thanks for all your hard work and congratulations to you and all the folks at Iowa Carry. I know you guys were pushing for shall issue for a long time.


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