NRA alters concealed-weapons proposal
By JENNIFER JACOBS • firstname.lastname@example.org
• December 26, 2009
The National Rifle Association has updated its proposal for changing Iowa's law on how sheriffs must issue permits to carry a concealed weapon.
Hard-core gun advocates in Iowa complained publicly about the last version, saying it was far too weak in some areas and unfair to gun owners in others.
One Iowa grass-roots gun group, Iowa Carry, supports the NRA's work - both the older version and this latest one.
The draft legislation would "correct the current very poor permit to carry weapons law which is in force at this time," Iowa Carry officials said in an e-mail to members late Wednesday night.
State lawmakers have said they likely will consider the proposal after the next session of the Iowa Legislature begins Jan. 11.
Democratic and Republican legislative leaders have said it has a decent shot at passage. However, six major law enforcement groups passed a resolution opposing any change to Iowa's current concealed-weapons law.
Here are the key points in NRA's updated version:
SHALL ISSUE: Sheriffs would be required to issue a permit to carry a concealed weapon unless the applicant is disqualified because of certain specific factors. This would strike current law that says "any person who can reasonably justify going armed may be issued" a permit.
ADDICTION: Iowans with an "addiction" to drugs would no longer be disqualified from getting a permit to carry weapons. That's because some Iowans who are in recovery or are sober still consider themselves addicts, but are no longer using.
This proposal calls for prohibiting a person who is "under the influence of alcohol or an illegally used or possessed controlled substance" from carrying "a loaded firearm on his person, or within his immediate access and control while in a vehicle."
However, it would not be a crime if a person is drunk or under the influence of drugs while at his or her own "dwelling, or place of business, or land owned or possessed by the person."
PERMIT EXPIRATION: The term of the permit would increase from one year to five years "to increase efficiency and economy for both the citizens and the state," according to an NRA memo about the proposed legislation.
The change would ensure that permit standards are objective and consistent, not open-ended and variable from applicant to applicant, the memo says.
MORE PEOPLE DISQUALIFIED: More people would be disqualified from getting a permit for a concealed weapon, but those factors are required by federal law, the NRA memo says.
People with a felony record, a domestic violence restraining order, an adjudicated mental condition, or prior convictions for domestic violence could not get a permit.
Neither could a fugitive from justice, an "illegal or nonresident alien," someone actively and illegally abusing drugs, or someone who was dishonorably discharged from the armed forces.
This proposal would bring Iowa's standards into compliance with the federal "prohibited persons" law, the NRA memo says.
SUBJECTIVE TERMS REMOVED: The proposal would strike current state law that lets a sheriff deny a permit if someone has committed "repeated acts of violence." It also would strike current language that prohibits a permit unless the applicant "does not constitute a danger to any person." The NRA believes that language is too subjective.
MOST MISDEMEANOR CONVICTIONS OK: This would strike current Iowa law that permanently disqualifies a permit for someone convicted of one of 12 misdemeanors. Iowans no longer would be disqualified for a simple misdemeanor such as simple assault, harassment or hazing.
"The NRA believes that a misdemeanor conviction, as a rule, sets far too low a threshold to deprive a person permanently from the exercise of a constitutionally protected civil right," the memo says.
THREE YEARS OF GOOD BEHAVIOR: If a person is convicted of an aggravated or serious misdemeanor, he or she would have to avoid a similar conviction for three years before getting a permit.
However, conviction of a domestic violence misdemeanor would mean permanent disqualification, as currently required under federal law.
MINIMUM AGE: It would increase the minimum age to 21 for obtaining a permit not related to a job.
"NRA believes that little is to be gained by extending the license to carry to adults under age 21, while much potentially could be lost in the area of reciprocity with other states," the NRA memo says.
RECIPROCITY: Iowa would recognize permits to carry concealed weapons issued by other states, a courtesy known as reciprocity. The Iowa attorney general would decide whether other states' standards are similar to Iowa's or more strict.
TRAINING: Training requirements would change, and training would be good for a lifetime.
Evidence of experience with a firearm through participation in an organized shooting competition would suffice. So would training for a security guard job or law enforcement job, or military training.
Any public or private course that uses instructors certified by the NRA or Iowa Department of Public Safety also would qualify.
And anyone who previously obtained a license to carry a firearm in Iowa would not need to offer proof of training.
BACKGROUND CHECKS: This proposal would limit the amount of information that an applicant is required to provide to run a check through the National Instant Criminal Background System, which is maintained by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Applicants would need to provide a full name, driver's license or nonoperator's identification card number, residence and age. A Social Security number would be optional.
30-DAY LIMIT ON DECISION: Sheriffs would be required to make a decision on an application within 30 days or issue a temporary permit if the processing time for an application takes longer than 30 days. The conditional permit would have to be immediately revoked if the application later is denied.
SUSPENSION: A sheriff still could suspend a permit when a person is arrested or taken into custody for a crime or proceeding that could lead to disqualification. But the suspension then would be subject to review, under the new proposal.
CONFIDENTIAL INFORMATION: Personal information about the permit holder would be kept confidential.
"When names and addresses of permit holders are printed, thieves know where to look for firearms, and the whereabouts of persons who have obtained protective orders and firearms to defend themselves against stalkers or abusers may be revealed," the NRA memo states.
The Iowa public safety commissioner would keep records on permits to carry weapons and revocations. But the name of the applicant or permit holder, Social Security number, date of birth, driver's license or other identification number, and residential or business address, would not be public record.
RESTORATION OF RIGHTS: Convicts would be able to seek restoration of their right to keep and bear firearms. They would need a pardon from the president of the United States or the governor, or have their conviction expunged.
MENTAL ILLNESS REPORTED TO FEDERAL GOVERNMENT: Iowa would report to the National Instant Criminal Background System if a person is found to suffer from a debilitating mental illness or requires commitment for mental health treatment.