Shall-Issue Prognosticators’ Crystal Balls Were Cloudy

The DesMoines Register reports that some sheriffs are astonished that when they stop arbitrarily curtailing folks’ rights, people start actually exercising them:

The number of Iowans seeking permits to carry handguns and other weapons has increased 170 percent during the first 11 months of 2011 — a trend one Iowa sheriff calls ‘unbelievable.’

January 1, 2011 is when Iowa’s shall-issue law took effect and immediately, more people started getting permits. Polk county, which includes the Des Moines metro, issued over three-and-a-half times as many permits in 2011 as in 2010 (9,720 versus 2,597). And – shockingly enough – contrary to all the predictions, there has been no blood in the streets. Let’s look at some predictions, shall we?

Back on January 3, 2011, Dean Close of Vinton Today penned the editorial Why many in law enforcement are concerned about Iowa’s new ‘Shall Issue’ gun law, saying:

If – under the new law that went into effect Jan. 1 – Mark Becker had walked into the Butler County Sheriff’s Office on the morning of June 23, 2009, and requested a permit to carry a handgun, that sheriff would have been required by law to issue him one.

I would never accuse a journalist like Dean of being too lazy or incompetent to perform basic research, so he must just be a damned liar. Mark Becker was involuntarily committed three times, was an unlawful user of marijuana and methamphetamine and had a history of violent psychotic outbreaks, any one of which would disqualify him for a permit under Iowa’s new law.

Dean goes on to admit, “That is an extreme example of why many people in law enforcement are concerned about the unintended consequences of Iowa’s new ‘Shall-Issue’ law,” which is awfully magnanimous of him considering that it’s a complete and total fabrication. He offers more faint praise when he says:

Before I go on dissing this “Shall Issue” law, I will acknowledge that the intent for it was good. The Iowa Legislature looked at how county sheriffs seemed to have widely varying policies on issuing gun permits. Some law-abiding citizens who would have received a permit in other counties were denied permits in the county where they live. That seems unjust; the Legislature wanted to fix it. I also understand that most people who have permits to carry firearms do so for legitimate reasons, and that they are law-abiding citizens.

But like many things a government body tries to do, it screwed up on this law.

Just how, in Dean’s opinion, did the government screw up?

Anyone who is not disqualified by law can pay the $50 fee, take a class and be issued a permit to carry a gun. The only way a person can be disqualified is to be convicted of a felony, convicted of domestic abuse, or be certified mentally insane. The law does require a certification course, but not all of those courses actually require a permit holder to shoot the gun.

Dean’s obviously missed a few points like illegal drug use, psychotic breaks and being involuntarily committed, which is different from being certified insane. So from his (skewed) point of view, he was correct. None of the disqualifying factors which he listed applied to Mark Becker when he committed murder.


The morning that his mental illness and other factors led Mark Becker to kill one of America’s coaching legends, none of those disqualifying factors applied to him.

That’s why the old law – the one the Legislature just ended – was designed to give county sheriffs the final say. The politicians of yesteryear understood that a local sheriff would know many people in his own county well enough to know whether or not it’s a good idea to let that person wander virtually every place with a loaded weapon.

I do wonder about one thing that Dean never addresses. Since Mark Becker committed his murder in June of 2009, Iowa’s old permit law was still in effect, so just how in Hades does the new permit law relate to the actions of a psychotic murderer?

The truth is, they don’t relate at all. Mr. Close was trying to link the two completely unrelated events in readers’ minds so that they would be just as fearful at the thought of people exercising their natural, fundamental, and inalienable human, individual, civil, and Constitutional right to keep and bear arms as he appears to be.

The new law allows guns in taverns – as long as the person who is carrying a gun is not legally intoxicated. But up until a person’s BAC reaches .08, the law allows them to be in a bar, drinking, and armed. The permit also lasts for five years, instead of one.

One of the officers I talked to said this change in law will certainly lead to more calls to police from taverns.”

That’s right, the sky is falling. Except, of course, that it didn’t, isn’t and won’t. Minnesota has allowed permit-holders to drink while carrying for over eight years now, and aside from one incident where someone was ejected from Nye’s Polonaise, driven home, retrieved his gun and drove back to shoot the bouncer, there really haven’t been any problems.

The new law would also allow a man to have a loaded rifle or shotgun in the gun rack in the cab of his pickup, said one of the officers. That will present an opportunity for theft, [the officer] said.

That is very true, anyone who is foolish enough to leave firearms in plain sight in a vehicle may well have them stolen. Which is why most gun owners will not be that foolish. I have to wonder, though, what these statements say about the officer’s feelings towards non-cops. Does he think we are all irresponsible morons who are going to get into drunken bar fights or lose our weapons out of the back of our pickup?

The change also means that it’s possible, said another officer, that a person who never fired a gun could end up with a permit to carry one.

Oh, that’s the kind of irresponsible moron they think non-cops are. The type of person who would make the decision to take responsibility for their self-defense, take a class covering the legal aspects of using deadly force and then trust their life and the lives of those around them to a deadly weapon without ever having fired it. Boy the cops in Iowa sure don’t seem to think much of the folks they serve and protect.

Dean then brings out the crying towel:

I know, I know: Most of the people who carry guns are law-abiding citizens. And under the new law, that will still be the case.

But when the new law results in one shooting, one injury or death to an innocent person, that will be one too many.

Okay Dean, but why do you assume that there will be no lives and injuries saved by permit-holders? I know it’s a difficult idea to wrap your brain around, but guns actually do save lives. It happens every day.

In fact, as I showed in this essay, guns in the hands of the law-abiding save (conservatively) almost twice as many lives as there are firearm homicides each year. So how about this: We’ll keep Iowa’s new shall-issue law in place until as many lives have been saved as were lost under the old discriminatory *ahem* I mean discretionary system and then we can evaluate your hysterical claims of bloody mayhem.

And the guys who have been dealing with this issue every day for years tell me that it’s not a question of if such a shooting will happen, but when.

Again with the low opinion of civilians by law enforcement. I ran into this with my best friend with whom I was grew up, who was a New York City cop for 25+ years. He had all sorts of stories about non-LEOs doing idiotic things with guns, but when questioned closely, he did admit that a lot of them were based more in ignorance than malice and had to agree that, if gun ownership weren’t virtually banned in the City, people would not be so ignorant.

Dean goes on:

Under the old law, a person could not obtain a permit if he had a ‘history of repeated acts of violence.’

The change in this law is one example of how modern politicians muddy definitions, make laws unnecessarily complex, and cause innumerable legal cases.

The new law replaces ‘history of repeated acts of violence with, and I quote:

‘Probable cause exists to believe, based upon documented specific actions of the person, where at least one of the actions occurred within two years immediately preceding the date of the permit application, that the person is likely to use a weapon unlawfully or in such other manner as would endanger the person’s self or others.’

So the legislature changed a fuzzy, subjective standard to a defined, objective standard. Wow, it doesn’t get much more scary than that (at least in Dean’s hoplophobic worldview) does it? And notice that someone doesn’t have to be convicted of a violent crime in the previous two years, merely arrested for one. Amazing how liberals are all gung-ho for the presumption of innocence and peoples’ civil rights until the subject comes to guns.

Dean finally hauls out this gem:

Laws are on the books for a reason. When the Iowa Legislature, decades ago, put the local sheriff in charge of gun permits, the leaders knew that the sheriff would know best who should and should not carry a gun in his county.

I certainly hope Dean is merely ignorant and not a racist, but according to my cousins who have lived in Des Moines for the last 75 years or so, the reason local sheriffs were originally put in charge of gun permits was to keep blacks from being able to get one.

Whatever its original intent, the fact is Iowa’s discretionary permit system was being abused by some sheriffs, leading to its replacement. Now that the new system has been in place for almost a year, 3.1% of Iowans have chosen to exercise their rights, there has been no “blood in the streets”, no “parking-spot shootouts” and no “mall massacres.” In short, the sky isn’t falling, and it’s going to be okay. Really.