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Packin’ Heat

By Staff | Jan 20, 2011

“Someone is here to see you,” the receptionist said over the intercom. I pushed my chair back from my desk, stood and started walking to the reception area. As I neared the front desk, I carefully adjusted my sidearm can’t be too careful with people packin’ heat these days – Especially if this is an unhappy customer.

Sound a little far-fetched? Well, it should.

It’s no secret that there has been and is a lot of controversy over the changes to Iowa’s weapons permitting laws. In a nutshell, Iowa law was changed from the phraseology of “may issue” to language directing a county sheriff to issue permits to possess and carry weapons. Previously, a county sheriff could choose to deny permits to carry weapons to anyone, based on the sheriff’s own discretion.

The law change went into effect January 1, and the uproar has been deafening since that time. All over the state, cities and county governmental entities are scrambling to adopt ordinances prohibiting people from carrying weapons in and on public property. At the same time, businesses are posting signs prohibiting the carrying of weapons in their establishments as well.

Keeping all this in mind, here is a little nugget to chew on from Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller’s office. “It is the opinion of the attorney general’s office that … while cities are restricted in how they might regulate weapons, they can regulate them in their buildings and their property and it’s also a fairly widely held belief that any property owner may restrict or prohibit weapons on their property.”

Another nugget – Iowa law provides for the establishment of “weapons-free zones” which range within 1,000 feet of schools and public parks.

There is an often overlooked fact in all this Iowa has long been an “Open Carry” state in terms of weapons meaning if you had a weapons permit issued by your sheriff, you could carry your weapon in plain view, but not in a concealed fashion. The change to the law that went into effect on January 1 had absolutely no change in that pre-existing regulation.

In plain English, the January 1 law change did not prompt every “Quick draw” enthusiast with a permit to start carrying his or her hogleg on a hip holster down the middle of the Main Street at high noon, waiting for the 12:05 stage to roll in.

I recall a similar uproar in Minnesota a few years back, but that occurred when Minnesota went to an “Open Carry” state, after not allowing the practice in any form. For a while, it was not uncommon to see people walking the streets of towns in Minnesota with a .357 or a .45 auto holstered on their hip. Then, quickly, the novelty faded and the fad died off. I can’t recall when I last saw someone stroll into a friend’s retail store in downtown Jackson packing a sidearm, other than a deputy sheriff or a state trooper dropping off a movie.

But yet, there are some people in Iowa who are terribly worked up by this whole issue. To them, the question becomes this if the law says you can possess and carry a weapon when you have a permit, and your town or county says you can’t, but the Constitution of the United States grants all citizens the right to bear arms and the right to protect themselves, what do you do?

I can see the logic for some governmental entities wanting to restrict where one could carry a weapon the golf course (you’ve already got clubs!) cemetery (except for a color guard), swimming pool and at airports.

Anyhow, there is your basic issue if there really is an issue. The only thing that has really changed in Iowa’s weapons law is that there is now a standard procedure for all counties in Iowa to follow when issuing firearms permit by the Sheriffs, instead of the individual Sheriff making the sole determination of who shall and shall not be issued a permit.

If anything has changed drastically, it is a change for the positive one that provides for classes to become eligible to register for a permit have become more available and training for those who wish to learn how to properly use their weapons are also more readily available.