Sunday, July 11, 2010

Concealed Carry

Iowa has been, for years, I don't know how long, a state where the sheriffs issued concealed carry permits based on the discretion of the sheriff, or what is commonly called a may-issue system.
The sheriff may issue a permit based on his own discretion, and is not required to issue a permit.

Those of us who are purists have real trouble finding the concept of may-issue permits in the text of this Constitutional statement,

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

In my humble opinion is takes a real serious case of mental absurdity to find in that text the ability of some two-bit County Mountie to deny a God given right. Of course I'm not a sleazy lawyer, nor do I desire to play one on TV.

In the last legislative session here in Iowa, a friend of mine introduced for the second year in a row, a bill was based on a Vermont style carry law. Here is an excerpt of a position paper from Gun Owners of America of which I am a member on the subject.

Several states are considering adopting "Vermont-style" concealed carry legislation. Most of the Carry Concealed Weapon (CCW) laws in the country require citizens to first get permits. But in a couple of states, like Vermont, citizens can carry a firearm without getting permission . . . without paying a fee . . . or without going through any kind of government- imposed waiting period. There are many reasons for a state to adopt a genuine right to carry law:

1. Carrying a firearm is a "right" not a "privilege"

The Second Amendment guarantees that "the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed." This means that law-abiding citizens should not need to beg the government for permission to carry a firearm. That would turn the "right" to bear arms into a mere "privilege." Likewise, one should not have to be photographed, fingerprinted, or registered before they can exercise their Second Amendment rights. Criminals certainly do not jump through these "hoops." The Second Amendment is no different than any of the other protections enumerated in the Bill of Rights. That is, honest citizens should not need a government issued permission slip; rather, they should be able to carry as a matter of right.

What we got instead was a compromise deal between the NRA and the sodomy loving Demoncrat president of the Iowa Senate, which allowed a bill that made shall-issue the law in Iowa. Now this is an improvement over what we had, but we were one vote short of getting the Vermont style law last year. And in an attempt to keep that from happening, the NRA sold out the Iowa gun owners to claim victory in getting a shall-issue bill.

As a side note, it should not surprise anyone that the NRA may endorse Harry Reid in his Senate Race in New Mexico. Anything it takes for NRA to keep itself in a position of power seems to be the current mode of operation at NRA.

Anyway, Iowa is now going to be a shall-issue state. The sheriff must issue a permit, unless he can provide a written reason explaining his reason for refusing to issue a permit. This legislation passed near the end of April, and goes into effect later this year.

I still intend to fight for a Vermont style law. I'm assuming I will be fighting against the NRA and it big money interests, but I will continue to fight.

I was motivated to write about this issue after a verdict was announced in a recent court case here involving an acquaintance of mine. Rather than try to explain the details I'm just going to link to several articles on the subject, ......

Concealed Carry Denial

Too Little (Almost) Too Late

First Amendment Violation

And I going to reprint this one, the highlights are added by me,

Wall Street Journal

They say you’re never too old to learn, but one sheriff who ran afoul of the First Amendment won’t have a choice.

A federal judge upbraided Osceola County, Iowa, Sheriff Douglas L. Weber this week for denying a concealed weapon permit to an Iowa man because he engaged in frequent political advocacy. So egregious were the sheriff’s actions, the judge found, that the judge ordered Weber back to school for a court approved course on the Constitution. See here for story in the Sioux City Journal. (h/t: The Volokh Conspiracy)

“In denying Paul a concealed weapons permit, Sheriff Weber single-handedly hijacked the First Amendment and nullified its freedoms and protections,” wrote Federal Judge Mark Bennett in the opinion. “Ironically, Sheriff Weber, sworn to uphold the Constitution, in fact retaliated against a citizen of his county who used this important freedom of speech and association precisely in the manner envisioned by the founding members of our nation.”

Paul Dorr, who filed the suit, was denied the permit because people considered him strange as a result of his political activities, which included gathering information on the size of the county budget. By way of explanation for the denial, Weber wrote on Dorr’s application, “Concern from Public. Don’t trust him.”

Bennett writes in his ruling that it is often difficult to determine what drives an individual’s decisions in a case like this, but Weber’s testimony was so forthcoming that it didn’t leave a shred of doubt.

“The court finds a tsunami, a maelstrom, an avalanche, of direct, uncontroverted evidence in Sheriff Weber’s own testimony to conclude beyond all doubt that he unquestionably violated the First Amendment rights of at least Paul Dorr,” he wrote.

Dorr, unsurprisingly, was quite happy with the ruling. “Justice is served,” he told the Sioux City paper Wednesday. “I get my permit back and the sheriff is being sent back to school. The harm done by Sheriff Weber against the 6th and 9th commandments has been made right.”

The paper couldn’t reach the sheriff for comment on the case or the required class. Judge Bennett, for his part, seems quite comfortable giving a lecture himself:

“This is a great reminder that the First Amendment protects the sole individual who may be a gadfly, kook, weirdo, nut job, whacko, and spook, with the same force of protection as folks with more majoritarian and popular views.”

And I want to say that this kind of behavior by sheriffs is exactly why I want a Vermont style law as opposed to the Shall-Issue which we will soon have as Law.

If a sheriff will knowingly violate the rights of a citizen thy way Sheriff Weber violated Paul Dorr's rights, by what logical standard can we expect that same kind of sheriff to justly and fairly exercise his position when the shall-issue system is in place. I believe that some sheriffs will find every way possible to continue to deny gun owners the right to carry by using every illegal, immoral and underhanded tactic they can think of to refuse to issue carry permits. Just like Sheriff Weber did to Paul Dorr. They will have to work harder at it, they will have to issue more permits than they previously did, but my guess is that we will continue to hear accounts of lawful citizens denied they Constitutional rights by sheriffs who have no regard for the rights of the citizen,