Lawsuit aims to test Iowa's concealed weapons law


November 5, 2008, 02:17 PM
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An Ocheyedan man has filed a federal class-action lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of an Iowa law that requires individuals obtain a permit to carry a concealed weapon.

Paul Dorr, 52, said Thursday that Osceola County Sheriff Douglas Weber wrongly denied on a political whim his and his 18-year-old son's requests for permits to carry concealed weapons.

Dorr filed the lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Sioux City against Weber and Osceola County because Weber turned down the permit applications of both Dorr and his son in 2007. Dorr alleges that the sheriff denied his Second Amendment right to bear arms and 14th Amendment right to due process. "He just denied my permit to carry without foundation," said Dorr, a consultant for taxpayer and political groups. "That denial just brought to mind the lack of objective process that Iowa code allows for sheriffs."

Dorr is bringing the lawsuit on behalf of anyone who has been denied a permit to carry in Iowa. The case is believed to be the first of its kind challenging part of a state code that gives sheriffs discretion in deciding who should receive permits to carry concealed weapons, according to the Iowa attorney general's office.

It is also believed to be one of the first lawsuits since a U.S. Supreme Court decision in June called into question the constitutionality of some state and local gun permit ordinances. The decision, District of Columbia vs. Heller, shot down the district's gun ban, saying it violated an individual's right to bear arms.

At least 35 states including Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri and Nebraska now mandate that concealed weapons permits be approved if applicants meet a set of criteria laid out in state law. For the second time in two years, Iowa groups such as the Iowa State Rifle and Pistol Association and are supporting a legislative proposal that would make Iowa's permit process more uniform and take discretion away from sheriffs.

The code allows sheriffs to grant permits to carry provided applicants are 18 or older, have never been convicted of a felony, are not addicted to drugs or alcohol, and have no history of violence. The law also requires that "the issuing officer reasonably determine that the applicant does not constitute a danger to any person."

Dorr said he was granted a permit to carry without incident from 2001 to 2007, but that changed when he went to renew his permit in August 2007. His application, he said, came after he had questioned spending within the sheriff's department and the salary of the local county attorney.

Dorr said Weber, elected in 2005, denied his permit, saying that there were people in the county who were afraid of him.

Weber said he would not comment on the lawsuit because he had not yet been served and he had not consulted an attorney. Robert Hansen, the county attorney, did not return a phone call Thursday seeking comment.

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November 5, 2008, 04:35 PM
I would hope this goes to the supreme court, and then it clarifies that no permits are needed period....
and then goes so far as to incorporate into the states....

I know.. wishful thinking, but in Wisconsin we need something like this to give us back SOMETHING that Govenor Doyle keeps from us here all the time.

Mike U.
November 5, 2008, 05:38 PM
Police are there to enforce the law, and not to arbitrarily decide whether a law abiding citizen is allowed to exercise their GOD Given AND Constitutional Given Right to self defense or not.

I pray this case is won in grand fashion.

November 5, 2008, 07:43 PM
We had a law get through the house earlier this year that would make the law the same in every county and required the sheriff to give a reason in writing for denying a permit but the senate killed it. They wouldn't even let it get on the floor. Right now it's a county by county thing. One county you sit through a class take a test as a group, pass a background check and you got it. No shooting, next county, the sheriff doesn't give permits to anyone. Its all based on the beliefs of each sheriff. I'm in one of the lucky counties.

November 5, 2008, 07:44 PM
I thought that it has been getting easier to get a permit. 3 years ago or so, I couldn't get a permit for the life of me. Last march they almost forced a application on me when I just wanted a purchase permit. It is still a shall issue state though.

I am also excited because this is the first local news I've seen on THR. It's great to live in the middle of nowhere.

November 5, 2008, 07:49 PM
matt9052 - no one gets left behind! :)

Mike U.
November 5, 2008, 07:51 PM
Wait a sec! If it's a "shall Issue" state, why does anyone need the permission from the desk jockey politico sheriff to get a CCW?

We're a "Shall Issue" state here in Fla. All I have to do is fill out the app., take a safety course, pass the B/G check and pay my processing fee. Done deal.

Now, I've been told you have to get permission from the Police Commisioner to get a Class III Weapons Permit and join some silly-ass Class III club, which is wrong on ALL counts if it's true.
Which, honestly, I've never checked it out for myself.
I don't have a spare $15,000.00 to join the full-auto club, so why bother?

November 5, 2008, 08:02 PM
It is still a shall issue state though.
Not if the whim of a bureaucrat can deny it.

November 5, 2008, 08:04 PM
Iowa is a "May Issue" state. And alot of the time the local sherriffs will put enough restrictions on your CCW to make it almost worthless.

November 5, 2008, 08:08 PM
Are you guys required to have a "Good Cause" statement?

We need to have a Good Cause reason here in CA, but that good cause cannot be protection, nor 2A right. It has to be something like being a lawyer or jewelry owner that transports valuable items.

You may POSSIBLY acquire one, depending on the county you live in...say less than 200,000 pop.

November 5, 2008, 08:09 PM
May issue. my mistake. I knew what I wanted to say and then typed the wrong thing.

November 5, 2008, 08:19 PM
We have to give a reason for a CCW. My sheriff will not accept self defense as a reason. He will only accept target shooting and hunting as reasons. There are 98 other sheriffs with each having his own requirements. Some counties the sheriff will not trust his own county's population, but has to honor a CCW from another county. It's a ridiculous system we are trying to change.

Mike U.
November 5, 2008, 08:19 PM
Not a prob. :)
I hope you guys can get it remedied by turning Iowa into a "Shall Issue" state.
It's the right thing to do.

November 5, 2008, 08:24 PM
At we are trying to do just that. But it's going to be a fight.

November 5, 2008, 08:47 PM
Well the fact that he was first permitted (and nothing happened afterwards) and then denied for no apparent reason should help his cause.

Now if we find out he had something criminal happen in between there (I think unlikely) that changes everything.


November 5, 2008, 08:49 PM
In Iowa the Sheriff has the right to deny a CCW to whoever he wants. Does not have to be any reason given. Totally up to him. Even if the background check is ok, the sheriff can say no. And they can take away the CCW just as easy.

November 5, 2008, 09:54 PM
I lived in Story county for 8 years(home of ISU). NO permits issued. The Sheriff even brags that he only issues 2-3 a year. moved to Polk county, got my permit the next month. Welcome to Iowa.

November 5, 2008, 10:59 PM
Got my first permit there when I was 18. It used to be just a pink duplicate piece of paper back then. We had to sit through a session with the Sheriff, it was Phil Nelson in Clay county. The guy was pretty much old school but even then he said the only reason he would state on the permit was hunting, trapping and target. Said the only other type at the time was the kind he gave his deputies and other LE.
Hope you guys get shall issue and reciprocity with Colorado.

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